BY ONOCHIE ANIBEZE
Nwabufo Obienu would not want to be seen as fighting for Samson Siasia. But based on his observations in the 2-2 draw with Guinea and the performance of some players in their various clubs after the October 8 disaster the former FA Vice Chairman maintains there was element of sabotage in Nigeria’s Nations Cup ouster.
“I strongly feel that some players who had issues over discipline with Siasia sabotaged him in that match. But the entire Nigeria has been hurt and not only Siasia,” Obienu said in a long telephone chat.
“Players can make mistakes and you’ll see that they were truly mistakes. But what we saw on October 8 was sabotage on the part of two players, one of whom deliberately miss-kicked in front of goal three times, killed the pace each time he had ball and when he passed the ball it was direct to opponents. The other deliberately failed to mark and that helped Guinea score two times. We saw what happened and we knew that it was sabotage. That’s why I don’t want Siasia to be sacked. It will mean victory for indiscipline.
I don’t subscribe to foreign coach. No foreign coach can build our football because I don’t see us finding another foreign coach who can work like Westerhof. So, let Siasia continue but let them beef up his crew. Human beings wrote his contract and human beings can rewrite it.”
Astute sports administrator Pa John Ojidoh disagrees with Obienu and says that “contracts must be respected because honouring contracts is part of rule of law.
Siasia can reapply and still get the job but based on the current contract that he holds, the job ended with the 2-2 draw in Abuja. I’m not trying to defend anybody but the goals that passed Dele Aiyenugba couldn’t have passed Vincent Enyeama.”
Obienu feels strongly about the last point Ojidoh made and reacted this way:
“No coach can succeed without cutting the tails of some players. The matter of indiscipline has held our football hostage. It’s been there for long.
Westerhof succeeded because he dealt with it summarily. After he left we returned to the past and we have been suffering it. Siasia came on board and put his feet on the ground against some of these things and normally there would be initial problems.
But he was heading somewhere and would have learnt his lesson from what happened. If there were issues with Mikel Obi and Osaze, he should not have even played or started them in that match. The two players woefully disappointed Nigeria. I’m sure he would handle such matters better in future if given the opportunity. I think that he was on the right track.”
On the way out for Nigerian football Obienu made the following points:
“Let’s develop our league and build Eagles from there. I remember when Westerhof was building the Eagles from Honda ground in Ota, I was in Rangers then. We were fighting him for taking our good players to camp every week. But when we found out that the players were always fitter and technically better each time they returned from camp the club was even ready to be paying their transport fares to camp.
Our salvation is not in foreign coach but at home here. All the foreign coaches that came after Westerhof failed us. Bonfrere Jo based in Europe and was coming back with players each time we had a match.
He never had interest in our league and after I caught him returning with our players for a match our board of the FA sacked him after losing to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Let’s emphasize on our league and insist our coaches draw U-17 and U-20 players from our leagues and youth teams and if we don’t get it right after sometime I’ll volunteer to go to jail.