Before the sacking of Amodu…(again)

Adeola Aderounmu

Is Amodu the problem with Nigerian Football? I don’t think so. Does he have roles to play in the development of our game? I think so. Has he done everything right? No.

There are thousands of question one could ask and there will be thousands of opinions for each questions. In Nigeria everyone of us is a potential coach and analyst.

If Amodu is sacked, history will probably repeat itself. In France 1998 and Japan/ Korea 2002 Nigeria suffered humiliation in the world cup championship. Coaches that didn’t qualify Nigeria for the championship were drafted in as the so called “world cup coaches” and Nigeria was humiliated in both tournaments.

In 2010 we are about to repeat the same mistake. Sometime I wonder if Nigeria learns! For some people it is business as usual. Let’s bring in a new coach and collect our share of the deal and contract!

Amodu is not the problem with Nigerian football. The administration of football in Nigeria is a joke! You find men in agbada running around with big stomachs and calling themselves sports administrators. These men are pure contractors and they have been blinded by what they stand to gain from the sport rather than what they can give to the game. In some instances, you will find people who cannot even spell football correctly. Some of these people have no real knowledge of the game.

And they blame the coach and players.

Indeed when you watch Nigerian games sometimes you can take a swipe at the players and coaches. Often it appears that they don’t know what is at stake. But believe me, they know. We should never forget that Nigerian footballers are big time pros. Who doesn’t want to win games or who does not want to play at the world cup? It is the dream of every footballer.

So what is wrong?

The thing is in Nigeria; almost everything is done wrongly at the national level. The system is bad. So it is not even a football affair. For all I care, let them change the coach, then they will discover that the problems might even get worse. Foreign coaches don’t understand the Nigerian mentality or factors and they have failed woefully. It took Westerhof quite some time to get used to the system, then he achieved some good results. His saving grace was continuity. After him, Nigerian football has lacked continuity. We want instant achievements; we are always in a hurry.

The administration of football in Nigeria just like every thing about our public life needs a new face and a new life. When those who know about football and those who are good administrators take over the running of Nigerian football, we will return to our glorious past and start to achieve better results again. This is the same thing with our political dilemma. When we learn to do things the right way, we will get back on track and save ourselves from the poverty that now dominates.

For the Super Eagles, they don’t need a new coach. While I am not professing to know it all or to have the magic formula, I will offer my own suggestions.

Since the world cup is around the corner, it will be foolishness to sack Amodu. Amodu should be allowed to go to the world cup. It is under him that we got the ticket. Ha has done so before and was rudely sacked. It should not happen again.

I think we should work on three areas for the world cup:

1. We should work on the technical aspect of the game, and this does not mean a new coach. There are ways to go about this. Amodu can learn a lot in 3-4 months. How this can be achieved is known to those who know about football. This is what the NFF should be thinking about. How can we, in the short time we have to the world cup, give Amodu the best Technical knowledge that he needs? Can we do this by bringing Siasia or Keshi to the national team? Nigeria must find a Nigerian answer to the technical problems in the team. A foreign coach will destroy what is left of Amodu’s Super Eagles. The outcome of finding a new coach may be negative as we saw in France 98 and Japan Korea 2002.

2. The second aspect is divided into two and it concerns the players. Their collective mentality and physical strengths should be worked on. The team has a psychologist as I will like to believe. He or she must work on the mental strengths of the players. How that is done is left to the professionals in that field. There is something wrong with the way Nigerian players perform on the field of play that is now right. That must be addressed. Sometimes it appears that they are concentrating on something else instead of the game. This is just my opinion. AND I sincerely believe the team needs a physical trainer to work on their perseverance, endurance and strength.

3. The team does not have a maestro or libero. In the 80s we had late Muda Lawal in the midfield. In the 90s we had Keshi and then Oliseh followed by Okocha. These men controlled the game and dictated the pace of play for the Nigerian teams. What these men do or don’t do really mattered for the Nigerian team. After Okocha, we have had no new commander for the team. There is no one in the Nigerian team who can hold the ball as needed and distribute “sharp” passes with precision.

Yobo is the captain but playing in the defence does not really give you the possibility to dictate the pace of play. Kanu is definitely not the one as age has caught up with him. Uche and Mikel Obi have not been able to play that role. I am convinced that there must be a Nigerian player either in the local league or abroad who can do this job. We must find him!!!

This is where I have my criticism for the coach. As a coach you must find a libero or commander for the team. It doesn’t have to be the captain. You need someone who the game revolves around. It is an essential element of football. I watched Nigerian games and I see a sailing boat without a steering captain. I see an auto-pilot plane. It doesn’t work when your opponent is well equipped.

I know that my views are not perfect but I am very uncomfortable to read or hear about Nigeria looking for a new coach. That is definitely fattening of some people’s pockets and the beginning of new problems.

The issue of the ages of our footballers and how this affects the quality of their outputs is another matter entirely-beyond the scope of this discussion.

Good luck Nigeria..!

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