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Foreign coach: Nigeria goofs again

Onochie Anibeze, Group Sports Editor
For some days now, Paul Odili, has been wondering why Nigeria’s sports authorities keep making the same mistake, time after time.


Odili is the communications manager in the government of Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State. He was our former deputy political editor.

“It happened before we signed Berti Vogts and everybody condemned it. But it’s still happening now and it will happen again after this experience. It’s annoying,” Odili fumed on phone.

He was referring to the trip to Europe and other parts of the world football officials made in search of a foreign coach who will manage the Eagles in the 2010 World Cup coming up in four months time.

Before Nigeria signed Berti Vogts, a team went to Europe. They did same thing before they signed Phillipe Troussier and Bora Milutinovic in the 1990s. They have not stopped traveling in search of foreign coaches for the Eagles. The controversy and seeming confusion every time Nigeria wants to sign a coach still persist.

“They are wrong, absolutely wrong by going to Europe to talk to the coaches or even select them,” former sports minister Bala Ka’Oje said during the week.

On Monday, the football federation interviewed former coach of Senegal, Bruno Metsu and Ratomir Dujkovic who trained Ghana to the last World Cup in Germany. They planned to interview more coaches for the job. They followed the path treaded by the past boards. It is not the right approach.

Shockingly, this time around, the Presidential Task Force whose members should know better having played the game here and abroad, and supposedly acquired exposure, joined in the so-called interview.  Radio reports had it that Djukovic and Metsu were drilled in the interview. It was laughable. It continued to expose not only the ignorance on the part of our officials but also their backwardness.

The normal thing football countries do is to diligently note the coach that they feel has the track record and other qualities to help their football. They can shortlist about three names in order of priority. It remains confidential at this time.

They contact the first man on the list and if he is interested they can now hold talks in any given place. But they must also discuss with his employers if he is engaged.  Sometimes, their moves could leak out to the media but they would not be the ones announcing their intentions to meet any coach or coaches. If the coach says he is available for the job they will now hold talks or what our people perceive to be interviews.

But they are no interviews in the real sense of it. They discuss terms which include remuneration, how taxes will be paid, targets, allowances, welfare (including holiday packages), highlights of contract like termination and compensation, resignation, engagement of his technical staff etc.

It is when they don’t agree on these terms that the association or the federation can go for the second person on the list and later the third person as the case may be. It is no interview where technical questions on their capabilities are asked as indicated by reports on what transpired in Abuja during the week. The capabilities of the coach or coaches ought to have been known even before  the choice was made and subsequent discussion.

Their track records are there. It is no time to ask coaches the formations they like most or how they intend to execute matches. Even when football countries use the word interview, it is discussion of the terms and not the type of interviews Nigerian officials ignorantly conduct on our shores or abroad.

Our federation even conducted written and oral interviews for coaches before Amodu was engaged. The practice of conducting these interviews did not start with the current board as Odili pointed out. But what baffles those who follow the game is why we have continued our backwardness in a modern era. Those responsible are only ridiculing Nigeria. There appears to be no end to this. Coaches need job and may respond. But it is still not the right way. Nigeria can do better.


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