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Thank you, Mr. President

By Onochie Anibeze
Edwin Eze, a senior colleague had sent this text: “Dagama, that was a masterpiece. If we had listened to our analysts in picking  local coaches like Siasia, Keshi and Okpala before the World Cup, the tragedy of Lars Lagerback would have been avoided.”

I told my friend that as I made to write on Lars Lagerback and the coaching problem in Nigeria, the bombshell came. President Goodluck Jonathan had ordered Nigeria out of FIFA for two years. I had to face that first.  Now that it is over, I will briefly address the Lagerback issue.

But I must note that I was scandalized by the position of those I felt were in a better position to educate the government on such matters.

Even those who have benefited immensely from the game of football backed the President’s initial position instead of raising alarm to address the problem squarely. FIFA has never stopped any country from effecting changes for the progress of the game once you follow due process.

And the FA Congress is the body that could make such changes. What FIFA doesn’t want is government directly interfering and showing it. You change laws through the legislature and not by any fiat from government. That is what FIFA says.

Unfortunately, those I expected to know better shocked me. Now, the President knows better, I thank him. I hope those who supported withdrawal will not seek any football office in the near future.

We know them, only that I don’t know where to place highly respected Adegboye Onigbinde who supported the move to ban football but commended the President when he reversed his decision. I think that they misquoted him.

I thank Mr. President for listening to the voice of reason. That was how Abdulrahman Abdulrazak also put it. He was so enraged that he threatened to go to court, insisting that we could achieve changes without killing the game.

Peace is returning to our football. I hope that they know what to do to finish the job and organize a proper election to usher in a new board. I am watching.
I wanted to write on Lagerback because Taiwo Ogunjobi said that the football federation would renew his contract if the Swede wanted to stay.

Ogunjobi was in charge of technical matters of the federation before the impeachment that removed him, Sani Lulu and Amanze Uchegbulam from the board last Sunday.

I was disappointed that they wanted Lagerback to stay. The Eagles played very badly in South Africa and I’m still to come to terms with some of the decisions of Lagerback. Against Greece, when the red card came and we were still leading, Lagerback did not react to the red card.

When we needed a midfielder or defender to hold the game since we were short of one man, he introduced an attacker in Osaze. When Greece equalized and later led 2-1, he needed goals and needed to introduce an attacker he introduced a defender in Afolabi. We eventually lost the match and confirmed our mediocre class against South-Korea.

Against Argentina, many Nigerians commended the team for conceding only one goal. They said we played well. I disagreed on professional basis. In 90 minutes, we made only two attempts at goal and people still said that we did well. What parameter did they use?

Interestingly those who played the game were equally disappointed. Adokiye Amasiemeka, Christian Chukwu, Sylvanus Okpala, Emeka Ezeugo, Victor Ikpeba,  all faulted our approach. We continued playing badly until we disgracefully crashed out. His team selections were awful.

I gathered that Lagerback was so pleasant that he never charged at anybody. He was a father figure to the players.

Such a person will never succeed in the Nigeria that I know. If he lacked the tactics and authority, there was no way he could have succeeded especially with the quality of players at his disposal.

If the federation knew this, how could they be talking about renewing his contract? Or was the attraction his status as a foreign coach? If Amodu Shaibu, Christian Chukwu or Fany Amun took Nigeria to the World Cup and recorded the results Lagerback got, with N45 million a month salary, would anyone be talking about renewing any contract?

Our FA must know the state of our football. This should inform the class of coach that can lift our game. I hope that they know this and begin to appreciate the fact that right now we lack quality players and need to build a new generation of Eagles. I will dwell more on this later but for now, let me thank Mr. President for discarding a bad advice.


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