Sports

June 22, 2024

Can Super Eagles soar under this mess?

Can Super Eagles soar under this mess?

NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi

By Jacob Ajom

It is one week since that erstwhile coach of the Super Eagles Finidi George resigned his appointment. That shocking turn of events was a direct result of the Nigeria Football Federation’s decision to demote Finidi and hire a foreign coach to head the team. No man worth his salt would stay under such a fiat and shameful decision. It is another humiliating and inglorious end to yet another indigenous coach.

The NFF has ridden on the back of Super Eagles poor run in the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers and the general mood of disaffection among Nigerians to hatch their long held prejudice for Nigerian coaches to ease Finidi out. This is not a defense for the former Ajax Amsterdam winger whose achievements as a player stand him out among the best in the world. Even as a coach, Finidi cannot be termed a failure.

How many coaches are judged by two matches? Even the foreign coaches whom the NFF had been patient with took time to settle. Some never improved the team until their tenures ended. Finidi’s two match tenure was, according to a chieftain of the Players’ Union Harrison Jalla, “an experiment primed to fail.”

When the Minister of Sports Senator John Owan Enoh called the NFF for talks over the national team’s poor campaign, there was no indication that the NFF were going to hire a foreign manager to boss Finidi. Even at the meeting, nothing like that was said. A source who was at the meeting told Canada based Nigerian journalist, Adewale Ajayi that Finidi was not told about the changes in the technical crew. Ajayi wrote on his Facebook page, “At that meeting, the NFF didn’t tell Finidi in the presence of the Sports minister that they had plans to engage a foreign technical adviser.”

The fallout from the meeting of the Minister of Sports with the NFF delegation led by its President Ibrahim Gusau has sparked off more controversy than the issues surrounding Finidi George’s resignation. Apart from Finidi’s departure, it was the aftermath of that meeting that culminated in Osimhen’s rant against his former coach.

Some Nigerians have called for tough measures against the Napoli star for his arrogance and petulance .

A Nigerian journalist, Babatunde Otitoju likened Osimhen’s outburst against coach Finidi to controversial singer Portable.

Following Osimhen’s outburst, Nigerian journalist Babatunde Otitoju said the Napoli star overreacted.

“I didn’t like the way Osimhen spoke. I expected him to be far more responsible than to open his mouth in that manner but at the same time when somebody lies against you, you can really get angry. Osimhen overreacted.”

Former Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam believes the petulant posturing of Osimhen should be treated with utmost caution.

Uchegbulam, a former Vice-President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), said Nigeria cannot afford to ‘throw away the baby with the dirty water’, adding that the matter must be handled with wisdom.

“Osimhen should not have come out to insult his coach the way he did and even calling out his name is very insulting,” Uchegbulam, told journalists. “Finidi is older than him and has even achieved more in football than him. I think what happened was nothing but youthful exuberance.”

Meanwhile, ex-Super Eagles goalkeeper, Idah Peterside, has urged the Nigeria Football Federation to ban Osimhen from the national team if he fails to apologise to Finidi, and ex internationals for his conduct was a shame to all those who had won the national team jersey and Nigerians generally.

Despite the general outcry and call for punitive measures against Osimhen, the NFF has been treating the matter with kid gloves. Not a word has come from the Glass House. However, they(NFF) were quick to run to the press to deny the news that Osimhen had been banned from the national team. Part of the statement reads, “NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi expressed amazement at the reports, saying the Federation has neither instructed a process nor has a process been concluded to ban the player from the National Team.”

One week after a player publicly shamed his coach with unprintable names and even the NFF was not spared in Osimhen’s tirade and the football house doesn’t deem it fit to act? NFF’s inaction has only given credence to the fact that some players in the national team are untouchables because they have Godfathers on the board.

Members of the NFF board have failed to understand that football matches are not only won by the coach. Their conduct is eroding the powers and functionality of the coach over players thus festering indiscipline in the national team. It is a shame. A big mess. It is true that players try to be loyal to certain board members and not the coach. Keshi battled this and tried to manage it. His assistant, Sylvanus Okpala got kicked out because he didn’t have a godfather on the board. He also bluntly refused to align or kotow to the whims of any board member against the interest of the technical crew. 

Once the players are undisciplined because they can always have the backing of some board members they would dictate when to report to camp, they choose matches they want to play, their commitment to training becomes discretionary and everything becomes out of control. How can they win matches? Can godfathers take them to the World Cup? How can the Super Eagles soar again under such a messy and shameful regime?