Nigeria Appoints Lars Lagerbäck As Coach of The Super Eagles

Adeola Aderounmu

Lars Lagerbäck has been appointed as the coach of the Nigeria Super Eagles. Shuaibu Amodu has been sacked from that position because of the poor performances of the Nigerian team at the Angola 2010 African Cup of Nations. The sack is also connected to the pattern of play and the unconvincing manner in which Nigeria qualified for the world cup.

This is not the first time that Amodu would qualify for the world cup. He did it before and was sacked. The reasons and the circumstances are exactly the same. In fact the administration of football and sports in general in Nigeria has gone worse under the same period of time.

By sacking Amodu the NFF is actually sweeping the dirts under the carpets. NFF did so in France 98 and Korea Japan 2002, the outcomes were disastrous. More devastating when we lost our qualifying spot to lowly rated Angola in 2006. Not that Amodu is indispensable or that he could not have done better, but the fact is that there is more to sports and football in Nigerian than the use of Amodu as a scape goat. Goodbye Amodu, I hope the day will never come when they will ask you to come and help Nigeria to qualify for the world cup again.

The baton has now been passed to Lars Lagerbäck. I have followed Swedish football since 2002. That year Sweden defeated Nigeria 2-1 in the Japan-Korea 2002 World Cups. That was after Aghahowa put Nigeria ahead with a beautiful header off Yobo’s cross. Henrik Larsson and Fredrik Ljungberg got a goal each for Sweden.

Before 2002 I knew Martin Dahlin, Henrik Larsson and Tomas Brolin. Brolin was a huge success in the Italian league and he has a famous way to celebrate his goals. I don’t have any problem per se with the appointment of Lagerbäck. I think his track records give him a good edge for that position.

Sweden has not produced several big names in recent years but Zlatan remains outstanding. Sweden failed to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. Lagerbäck was relieved of his position. Lagerbäck was not a failure but I am convinced there are a few things he would have done better as the head coach for Sweden. Sweden does not have many skilful and talented players as Nigeria.

As the coach of a Nigerian team Lagerbäck has entered into a position where non-performance will not be tolerated. There are 140m football analysts in Nigeria. His seat is even hotter than that of the president. Does he know that? Nigerians don’t care about the presidency as much as they do football-football is the number one religion in Nigeria.

Lagerbäck who has been used to organised environment and structured attitude to work has now suddenly entered into a position where he may probably be looking for jerseys on match days. Lagerbäck will be shocked to know that his salary will not be paid on the 25th of every month. He will have to get used to be living in advance as the salaries will drag and drag. He needs tolerance, endurance and perseverance to survive the 5 months that have been handed to him.

Lagerbäck will inherit players of different ratings and attitudes. Obviously he needs to get used as quickly as possible to the Nigerian football ages and get rid of tired legs as soon as possible. He will see players who think they are doing Nigeria a favour by playing in the national colours. Lagerbäck will see players who are dying for their club sides because of the money they earn and strolling on the pitch when they play for Nigeria. He will be shocked! In fact he will see players impressing in training but posing on match days.

I have suggested in a previous post that we need to work on the mentalities of our players. But the complexity of the problem is that our players are Nigerians and we cannot isolate their mentalities from the national mentalities. Most of the people in governance or administrative roles in Nigeria are doing things that will profit them and not Nigeria. We have an attitude that has robbed us of our pride and duty to nation. Nigerian players are not exceptions!

I don’t know the nature of Lagerbäck’s contract but if I could just imagine-it would be wonderful to have him bring some organisation and structure into our football. If they could employ him not just as a coach but as a “tool” to institute the organisation that is missing in our football, that would be great.

Imagine if our democracy is structured like Swedish democracy-where you can vote at a post office or at designated centres before the Election Day-and your vote will still be counted. Imagine if we could sack corrupt people and let good and knowledgeable people run our sports, our football and our government-the world will be at our feet.

I wish Lagerbäck the best of luck. I wish I could meet him and give him some solid advice and information about his new task and terrain.

I wish Nigeria goodluck in South Africa. And I sincerely hope that Amodu will find the place in his heart to forgive Nigerians, we are a bunch of _________people..!