4NAIJA: countdown to the super eagles job! Is sunday Oliseh really ready to coach super eagles?

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Thursday, 16 July 2015

countdown to the super eagles job! Is sunday Oliseh really ready to coach super eagles?

There has been a groundswell of support for the Super Eagles coach-in-waiting, but it is necessary to ask what exactly the optimism is based on?

Though at the time a veteran of two World Cups and erstwhile captain, there was no fanfare, no commemoration.

There was just a cut to black, and roll credits.
The in-fighting in the Super Eagles camp during the 2002 Nations Cup brought a lot of things to the fore, and its fall-out has resonated deafeningly ever since. As a direct result, Nigeria went into the World Cup that year with no expectations, and this not in a liberating way. As an indirect result, Nigeria failed to qualify for the very next edition for the first – and only – time since making her debut in 1994.
At the heart of it was Oliseh, branded the head of a perceived mafia and persecuted for his implied megalomania.

That team was disbanded, its more experienced players cast into the undertow, and condemned to the scrap heap of history. The official version of the story is one that has never been forcefully refuted; there is a reluctance, even on the part of the principal actors, to make a clean breast of that time. However, it is safe to assume the account of the (then) NFA was hardly definitive.
The passage of time and prudent use of it has put Oliseh in a very unique position: he can now, once for all time, rewrite the narrative surrounding him. No, the NFF have not acquired a vehicle for time travel. However, they have done the next best thing: the former Super Eagles captain will, in the coming days, resume his new position as head coach of the national team.
The immediate question involves his suitability, or otherwise, for the job. For that though, there is no simple answer. It may sound like an evasion, but a lot of factors come into play when it comes to appraising a prospective national team handler. Considering where Oliseh stands in this light, it is a lot easier to be sceptical than positive.

Can the former defensive midfielder rewrite his own narrative with the national side?

The former Juventus and Borussia Dortmund midfielder comes with top-level UEFA coaching badges; this might not sound like much, but within the context of Nigeria’s football coaches, it is a big deal. However, as we are aware, certification is no guarantee of competence, especially in a job as hands-on as coaching.
The present situation is the equivalent of having an M.Sc. holder apply for a Managing Director position at a powerful multinational with next-to-no working experience. He could be a genius mind, but there is no way to know.
In defence, many are quick to point to Pep Guardiola, whose coaching experience upon taking over at Barcelona was a (successful) stint at Barcelona B. This misses the point: in the first place, club football differs from international football for obvious reasons. In any case, Pep was already in the system, and basically got promoted. Obscure Belgian side Vervietois are certainly not a satellite or affiliate of the NFF!
Precedent also does not work in Oliseh’s favour with regard to rookie international managers, but there is a certain comfort to be had in the knowledge that the Pinnick-led Federation are using the exception to the rule as a template.
J├╝rgen Klinsmann helmed the overhaul of German football following the debacle of the 2004 Euros. He midwifed the process, blooding in youth and instilling a style based on technical expressionism rather than physical superiority and efficiency. After winning third place at the 2006 World Cup on home soil, he handed over the reins to assistant Joachim Low, who last year reaped the ultimate reward: a fourth World title.
With an eye to the success of that approach, the NFF have tasked Oliseh with drawing up a blueprint for a total revamp of the country’s football, right down to the youth teams. Still, there are no guarantees; not every nation is entitled to a ‘Klinsmann’.
Cote d’Ivoire were guilty ofDISCOUNTING the importance of experience when hiring Sabri Lamouchi, green around the ears but eminently qualified on paper. Stellar as a player, he failed catastrophically as a manager – tellingly, the Ivorians ended their long wait for a continental trophy following his sack.
Much in the same way Oliseh can recast himself in a favourable light, his failure could also taint him irredeemably. His mystique has been enhanced by his aloofness. The more he did and said to distance himself from the national team job, the more Nigerians wanted him. However, a player of the ilk of Hristo Stoichkov, revered as Bulgaria’s greatest-ever footballer, suffered a demystification so debilitating that players refused to represent the national team with him in charge.
This makes the NFF’s rationale of him being able to command respect by virtue of his career seem hollow. Nothing earns deep and enduring respect as much as competence, and this is a commodity which, for all his eloquence, we cannot unequivocally say Oliseh possesses...at least not yet.
The rectitude of this decision will be apparent in the fullness of time, but any proclamations of Oliseh as the saviour of Nigerian football have no basis in hard logic. In gorging ourselves full of optimism, an accompanying dose of caution is in order. It is a choice that can neither be hailed as good, or condemned outright.
All we can do is wait.

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