Are Nigerians already getting tired of Sunday Oliseh? I ask this question in light of the grumbling I hear over the failure of the Nigerian home based national team to qualify from the group stage of the CHAN championship in Rwanda.
As coach of the team, Oliseh failed to lead his wards to match or surpass the achievements of his predecessor, Stephen Keshi who inspired his team, two years ago, to a bronze medal in South Africa. The team’s ouster in Kigali, typically, has raised questions as to why they failed to fly and the competence of Oliseh as a coach. Such questions surrounding the former RFC Liege of Belgium defensive midfielder, are in spite of comments credited to him that the team failed to defeat Guinea, their last Group C opponents, to progress in the competition because the players’ allowances in previous matches were not paid.
But some people, including members of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF to whom the accusing finger was pointed for the failure to pay the players’ allowances, would have none of that. As far as they are concerned, Oliseh, as the team’s coach, is to blame.
Beyond Oliseh, some observers, like Professor Femi Akinola, from Ilesa, put the blame on the doorstep of the players: “Among other things, the failure of the Super Eagles to advance beyond the group stage could be ascribed to their apparently heavy body disposition. They could not match their Guinea opponents in speed or airborne movement,” he noted, asking, “What pre-match activities, including feeding, were they engaged in?”
Listening and reading some of the views thrown up by the CHAN failure and even questions or doubts about the capacity of Oliseh as a coach, a viewpoint now gaining traction due to the coach’s alleged ill health, leaves one wondering yet again about this sport called football. I see it happen all the time. A club or national team’s management is obsessed by a coach or player and does everything within its power, including dolling out incredible sums of money (breaking the bank, that is) to lure the target only to soon begin to wonder whether it had actually made the right move.
Some of the coaches don’t even last up to a year in the saddle before people begin to lose their patience and call for their sack, like we saw it happen to Raphel Benitez of Real Madrid, who was in charge for only seven months. Oliseh, who reportedly earns N5 million a month, has spent only seven months on the job so far, but with some comments on him already, anyone unfamiliar with the situation might think he has been there much longer.
These days there are all kinds of stories in the media, that leave one wondering just how long this gaffer will last. In football, as in politics, a day is a long time. Thus yesterday’s hero is today’s villain. A man who just seven months ago was hailed by Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigeria Football Federation as the Pep Guardiola of Africa, after the legendary former Barcelona coach, is now viewed by some, including NFF bigwigs as a misfit.