SUNDAY OLISEH: NIGERIA’S ‘SHOULD-BE’ COACH

I love Nigeria…don’t you? Yes? No? Not that much? Ok…it’s cool. I do though. It’s hard to find good news about the country nowadays so I would welcome any news that we can smile about; especially when it’s about Nigeria or Nigerians. In this case, it’s about a Nigerian: Sunday Oliseh.

It was revealed yesterday that former Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, was finally deemed eligible for compensation following his resignation from Dutch side Fortuna Sittard. The Dutch 2nd Division club accepted Oliseh’s resignation after he suggested that there were illegal affairs occurring within the club. Being the principled football man that he is, Oilseh walked away. He leaves behind a team that has won the division, along with a promotion to the Dutch Eredivisie; an incredible achievement given their struggle against relegation the previous season.

A lot has been written about the impact Sunday Oliseh had on the club in his time there. He delivered record-breaking winning runs, high-scoring wins, as well as a first title in over 25 years for the club. Sittard have a lot to thank him for because it’s a pity that we may never get to see how they would fare in the Dutch 1st Division with him in charge.

As we head towards the World Cup in Russia, I’m starting to wonder what it would have been like if he remained in charge of the Super Eagles (despite all that happened). To be fair, his record with the team was not bad; just 2 losses in 14 games. Even though he failed to qualify for the 2017 AFCON, he was on course in the World Cup qualifiers. The team-play wasn’t bad either; he actually had them working as a unit. I have no doubt that he was capable of taking us to the tournament in Russia.

The Super Eagles squad is a bundle of talent, and one that can work wonders if made to be more cohesive. Oliseh is capable of that. He DID that with Sittard. Look where they are now. Yes, it’s different with club football but he achieved results with a team that had worse players. People will talk about his arrogance or hot-headed-ness (if I may use that word) and use it as a stick to beat him. The debacle with Enyeama is what he will be known for in the end, but ask yourself: Has Enyeama been recalled since then? Why not? Oh he’s retired? Why hasn’t Rohr pleaded with him to return? Thought Oliseh was his problem…he should be back by now. Why not? You’ll realize that it’s beyond Oliseh.

When Keshi handled this side and won the 2013 AFCON, his reign bore a resemblance to what Oliseh was producing; a young side that was disciplined and talented. He is clearly a talented coach who has a vision of how he wants his team to play. What coach (with a vision) won’t be demanding with his players? I also don’t think he fought with a lot of the players; in my opinion, Enyeama was just an isolated incident (which is normal in a team structure).

I think Nigeria has missed a trick by losing Sunday Oilseh…I really do. It’s rare that you find a manager that is as exposed as he is. It’s rare that you find a Nigerian coach that is as exposed as he is. I blame the NFF for not making it easy for him to work. Gernot Rohr is doing a great job with the team, but it’s clear that he enjoys a lot of support from the NFF. If they were this co-operative with Oliseh (or the other indigenous coaches we’ve had over the years), I’m certain that we would be looking at a team playing better football with a hugely motivated coach.

We probably haven’t seen the last of Oliseh in the Nigerian dugout but till then, I can’t help but think that he would have marked the end of having foreign managers handling the team. For the first time, we had the perfect candidate…and we lost him over pettiness. Shame.

Later.

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