By Patrick Omorodion
He has played the game and managed it as well. He is not known to talk from both sides of the mouth hence those administering the game in the country love to hate him and get jittery each time they see him coming close to either the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF or any of the national teams, the Super Eagles in particular.
Chief Olusegun Patrick Odegbami, with a Chieftaincy title bestowed on him by an autonomous community in Imo state, once ran into troubled waters with Eagles chief coach, Shaibu Amodu for airing his opinion on the coach before a World Cup qualifier.

While the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup lasted, Chief Odegbami was one Nigerian who believed that despite the wobbly performance of the Eagles, the team would still qualify for the Mundial.

He was later drafted as one of the members of the Task Force constituted by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to provide logistic support to the NFF and ensure Nigeria did not miss out of the first World Cup on African soil.

On the last day of the qualifiers after the Eagles nail-biting 3-2 victory over the Harambee Stars of Kenya right there on their Kasarani stadium pitch in Nairobi, this reporter spoke with Chief Odegbami on phone from Lagos and he gave God the glory for seeing the team through.

He was however quick to chip in that “now that we have qualified, we need to sit down and work on the team and ensure that we present a team that can represent us well at the World Cup.”

On Tuesday in Lagos, Chief Odegbami was besieged by sports journalists at a forum where the details for the 2010 edition of  the All Nigeria Secondary Schools Football Championship, tagged NNPC/Shell Cup, was unfolded and asked what he feels would be the fate of the Eagles at the Angola Africa Nations Cup beginning on January 10, 2010.

Chief Odegbami, who has a couple of occasions presented himself as a candidate for the NFF chairmanship but was each time skimmed out of it by some people who see themselves more as football stakeholders than others said “I don’t like the Angola Nations Cup at all.”

Pressed to say why, Chief Odegbami, nicknamed ‘Mathematical’ by ace commentator, late Ernest Okonkwo because of his dribbling prowess, said that Angola is situated in a corner of the continent and therefore travelling there would be difficult for Nigerians especially the supporters club members who are expected to be there to cheer the Eagles.

He equally said that the venues are very far apart while the hotels are out of this world going by their exorbitant room rates, adding too that transportation would also be chaotic.

Most importantly, Chief Odegbami’s main fear is the state of some of the Super Eagles players already invited for the assignment but nursing one injury or the other. He thinks they may not be fully fit for the competition.

After drawing a long breath, he said “the fate of the Eagles in the World Cup will depend on their performance in Angola. If they do well in Angola, they will not do well at the World Cup, if they do badly in Angola, I know they will do well in South Africa.”

He reiterated his earlier pronouncement that “something tells me that an African team would surprise the world in South Africa, whether it will be Ghana, Nigeria or Cameroon, I cannot tell.”

On the issue that the Presidential Task Force, PTF is pressurising the NFFto hire a foreign technical adviser to boss Chief Coach, Shaibu Amodu, Chief Odegbami denied that the PTF had such powers, stressing that it is an issue for the NFF to decide.


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