The Super Eagles coaching challenge


You cannot envy the Nigeria Football Federation, not at this time. Maybe with the exception of Chris Giwa, I’m not sure anyone else would really fancy Amaju Pinnick’s seat at the moment.

No, this is not about the many of court cases against them, neither is it about their seeming lack of ideas on how to run Nigerian football; well something close to that anyway.

Following the draws for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the NFF stated that a substantive coach for the Super Eagles would be announced in two weeks and while it isn’t two weeks yet, feelers suggest they are still no closer to naming a replacement for Sunday Oliseh, who left in February.

To think they are still deliberating on whom to appoint over four months since Oliseh’s unceremonious exit says a lot about their abilities – or lack of it – to effectively manage Nigerian football.

While it is widely believed a foreign coach will be appointed, the means of paying the salaries of the expatriate remains a problem. They say they are cash-strapped and while they can afford to owe local coaches for months and even years, they know they cannot try such with a foreigner, hence the delay in naming Oliseh’s successor.

Shortly after Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, Pinnick had insisted he ‘cannot entrust Nigeria’s World Cup qualification hopes on a local coach’, but the music has somewhat changed a bit now.

With the inexpert sports minister Solomon Dalung insisting the sports ministry will not contribute to the payment of an expatriate coach, and with funds scarce, Pinnick and his board are stuck and may make a dramatic u-turn and appoint a local coach instead.

Already, they have announced that the process is now open and anyone – yes ANYONE – can now apply for the position. What does that tell you?

So once again, we’re stuck, three months to the start of the World Cup qualifiers. And to imagine we still do not know who will be in charge of the team when we have a group of death to face, says a lot.

So what if they choose to go local and appoint an indigenous coach? But the question is, who should it be?

Nigerians are not exactly confident in the abilities of the local coaches, and so also is the NFF. Samson Siasia, who would have been the easy choice, is struggling with the U23s, so his appointment might seem ill-advised as it is.

Interim coach Salisu Yusuf has been propping himself up for the job, but doubts remain if he can handle the egos and personalities of the Eagles’ top stars.

While Emmanuel Amuneke appears sound tactically, the argument against him is that of inexperience – after all, he’s only managed the U17s and now the U20s.

Previously, the NFF would have looked at the safest option, which would have been Amodu Shuaibu, but the man is now late and it is believed he refused taking up the Super Eagles job on an interim basis again, reason why Siasia was considered after Oliseh resigned.

So who is now left to be considered by the NFF? Austin Eguavoen? James Peters? Imama Amkpakabo? Audu Maikaba?

So we’re stuck and from the way it is, and given the prevailing circumstances, the NFF will appoint someone who isn’t really their first choice and what happens then?