By Paul Bassey
Last week I had an alibi cast in iron. Last week I argued that since I was out of the country on that fateful day, I was not in a position to comment on our ouster from the Nations Cup.

Last week I promised that the moment I got in, watched some clips and shared views with friends and colleagues, I will be in a better position to contribute to the ongoing national debate that has elicited an editorial from a respected national newspaper among other comments.

Today I thought I should also delay my view given the fact that I am also a member of the NFF Technical committee which met last Thursday to deliberate on Nigeria’s ouster and make recommendations to the board.

This was my initial view given the probability that it may be difficult separating my personal view from that of the often miss understood committee. I say this because out of ignorance I have heard people say “sack the technical committee”. I am talking about those who blackmailed this country into hiring Coach Siasia and are now left confused as to the smoke that has enveloped the future of our football with Siasia in command.

Let me start from the airport. The moment I landed, I also suffered the humiliation as an immigration officer at the airport asked me to go hide myself in “shame” for being one of those that has subjected the country to the national disgrace. I want to thank his colleague who came to my rescue by asking him “ Na Oga Bassey coach the team, na him follow them play?”

Back in the country, I have also come across miles of words and tons of speeches on the fate of our football, hinged on whether Coach Siasia should stay or not. Most of these arguments, as scratched earlier on, are emotional, depending on whose side of the Siasia fence one is sitting.

The sports minister did not just sit and watch. He jumped into the fray and said Siasia was not the problem, so sacking him will not solve our football malaise. He wants a more enduring treatment of the issue (I believe I have put it better than he delivered it and I hope I have reflected what he actually meant)

In the midst of all of this, we have heard about the prophesy from a pastor that we will not qualify and some of the players believed there should have been a counter, there was the issue of discipline, and surprisingly, also that of the interpretation and understanding of the rules and regulations of the competition.

I was in the process of rolling out all these points to a friend who stopped me and said “ Yes we know all this, what is your opinion, what do YOU think? (Emphasis his).

My opinion, personal opinion is that there are two sets of coaches, those that are fired and those that are waiting to be fired! Also, coaches are as good as their last matches.

By the contract that coach Siasia signed. He stands fired.

I do not have to go into the details of the contract which says if he does NOT qualify us for the nations cup AND play up to the semi final, his contract is to be terminated “IMMEDIATELY”. That is the contract that the young man signed. There are “worse” portions that made me want to ask whether he showed a copy to his lawyer before appending his signature!

So, the moment he failed to qualify his country for the Nations Cup he would have tendered his resignation before waiting to be pushed out. (Someone even said if he had done so, we would have begged him to come back).

Whatever the problems of our football, and they are legion, we should stop being sentimental on this issue.

Yes, Siasia has said he wants to be given an opportunity to come back. It is a legitimate demand, which can only be treated as a fresh application. Briefly, let me repeat that going by the letters of Coach Siasia’s contract, his job ended the second the referee blew the final whistle on October 8 2011.

While making a case for his return let him not harp on “ building a team”. It is an argument that does not sink. Coach Amodu before him was also brought in to build a team, yet even after he had gotten bronze at the Nations Cup, he was still booted out.

The job of handling a national team IS NOT A COACHING ASSIGNMENT BUT A MANAGEMENT ONE.

At the level of becoming a national team player, you are not invited to camp to be taught the basics of the game, that is why many believe that the coach has to climb a rung or two of maturity given the magnitude of his assignment.

The view by those who are pro Siasia that given the short time available to us between now and the 2013 Nations Cup qualifier in January, he should be retained is countered by those who point at the Zambia example, a country that sacked even a coach that qualified them for the Nations Cup on the conviction that he will not give them the desired result during the competition.

It is therefore up to the Nigeria Football Federation to decide, yes based on the recommendation of the Technical Committee, whether from what they have seen of the coach and his assistants these ten months, he is worth retaining.

I rest my case.

SUNSET IN IJEBU ODE, DARKNESS IN ABA

After what seemed like a perfect run, the sun of the Akure based soccer giants was TEMPORARILY set last Saturday when they conceded a vital away goal victory to Club Africain of Tunisia in the first leg semi final of the Orange CAF Confederation Cup.

I will not go into details. Rather, I will say that Ijebu Ode has not really been a good hunting ground for the team. Those who follow them will attest to the fact that they struggle to score goals there. The success of their Confederation Cup this season has been reaped at away….Douala, Algiers…Kinshasha.

This is another opportunity to make that bold statement. Though the task is herculean, it is not impossible. Any victory at away will do, except for a 1-1 that will necessitate penalty kicks.

Club Africain will be playing under closed doors so the Tunisians will not have the benefit of their twelfth player, which is also a factor. Go Sunshine go.

Thousands of Enyimba supporters turned out last Sunday for the final qualification of the 2011 CAF Champions League between Enyimba International Football Club of Nigeria vs Wydad Casablanca of Morocco but left the stadium drunk with disbelief as Enyimba could not score a goal against the visitors. The scoreless draw ended Enyimba’s run for a third Champions League trophy. What is happening to Nigerian football?

See you next week.

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