INTERVIEW: Super Eagles Must Play ‘Nigerian Football’ To Win AFCON 2021 –Oliseh

INTERVIEW: Super Eagles Must Play ‘Nigerian Football’ To Win AFCON 2021   –Oliseh

In this exclusive interview with Complete Sports’ OLUYEMI OGUNSEYIN and JOSHUA ADEREMI, former Nigerian captain and coach, Sunday Oliseh believes that the Super Eagles can go all the way and win the 2021 African Cup of Nations while also tipping Senegal and Algeria as the other title favourites.

Oliseh has also urges Nigerians to give their full support to the Super Eagles interim manager, Augustine Eguavoen, his ex-internatinal teammate and who was only appointed as a stopgap coach on December 12, 2021 following Gernot Rohr’s sacking.

Ahead of the tournament, the Eguavoen-led Eagles despite having a short time to prepare, have been bedeviled with withdrawals due to injuries and clubs failing to release players.

Despite all of these setbacks, Oliseh believes that the Super Eagles can actually triumph in Cameroon while also ruing Victor Osimhen’s absence, describing it as a massive blow.


Sunday Oliseh

Complete Sports: The African Cup of Nations is upon us and Nigeria have been battling with so many injuries in the defense and attack. They have had a very short time to prepare, there have been withdrawals and clubs failing to release players. With all these, what are you still expecting from the Super Eagles in Cameroon? Do you think Nigeria have got any chance of winning the tournament?

Oliseh: I am expecting the Super Eagles to do very well, but I must admit that it hasn’t been easy coping with these injuries, withdrawals and clubs failing to release players. Nevertheless, this is Nigeria and we are always expected to do very well or go far in any football competition, especially as this is the African Cup of Nations.

The Super Eagles will confront Egypt in their opening group game and the Egyptians have a certain Mohamed Salah who has been scoring goals for fun this season. Can the Eagles’ defenders handle him? Do you think the Eagles can beat the Pharaohs?

In football, everything is possible. You have to always know that at the end of the day, it’s a rolling object. So, it can roll well for you and also against you.

The Egypt match is just one game and it is three points and we have to look at it from the point of view that even if we lose, we still have two more games to play and there is always a possibility that we qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.

Let’s take a look at each department in the Super Eagles. Which department excites you the most? Are you confident of the goalkeepers and do you think the team’s backline can do a good job in Cameroon particularly with Leon Balogun and Shehu Abdullahi missing in action? What should they do to succeed in Cameroon?

I will not go into discussion about the team because I am a coach and a humanbeing and I wouldn’t like it. But I would like to share my own knowledge on what I think the situation could be, what could help us and what we can expect for the future.

Also Read – INTERVIEW: ‘Eguavoen Must Make Eagles Defend Well As Team At AFCON 2021’ –Sam Sodje

The boys are under a lot of pressure. What they need to succeed is to play Nigerian football, it might shock you. But I think that is what they have to do to succeed and Nigerian football is aggression and pace. They shouldn’t look for how beautiful it is or whatever. They should just play Nigerian football which is aggressive and with pace.

What about the attack? Do you trust the likes of Taiwo Awoniyi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Peter Olayinka and Henry Onyekuru are good enough to deliver in the absence of goal-hungry Victor Osimhen?

That was a big blow, I mean the absence of Victor Osimhen, I was disappointed. It was the worst news I heard in some days concerning Nigeria. If you have been following my Tweets, he is one player I really like. I really like his style of play. There are a lot of things you can do with him, but that notwithstanding, we have some very very talented players like Samuel Chukwueze. He is in form and also exceptional.
We have got Moses Simon, he is also a very good one and also has pace. We have other quality players and it is just okay. They need some help and I think Augustine Eguavoen will catch up and carry out the responsibility. He is smart.

Let’s take a good look at the coach, Augustine Eguavoen whom you played with. Do you expect the Super Eagles to play quality football under him particularly as fans complained about the style of play under Gernot Rohr? Is he also under pressure to lead Nigeria to success in Cameroon?

The years I have played with Eguavoen, one thing that always stood out with him is the ability to be quiet sometimes, but his brain is running. We are all different. Some of us, when our brain starts to run, we are attacking directly and we try to find solutions directly. He has not had enough time to prepare the team, therefore, it will be unfair to start asking for a brand of play from a coach who has just inherited the players hours to the game. I am not saying days but hours, because don’t forget, some players just joined him on the flight when they moved to Garoua in Cameroon. So, he has got very little time to prepare for the game.


Also Read: Cameroon Legend Snubs Super Eagles Stars, Names Seven Players To Shine At 2021 AFCON

So, the brand of the game should not be what Nigeria should be looking for now or judging him on that, what they should be looking at is his effort.

Who are your top three teams capable of winning the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon?

I honestly always believe that my country, Nigeria can always lift the title especially when it comes to Africa. Then, I must be honest, as a coach, Senegal is extremely certain. The fact is that at the moment, they might not win it but when you are talking of capability, they have the most fearsome team in Africa. Algeria is also dangerous, they are the current Arab champions.

But you know what is good about the Nations Cup, every team, you have got to play them once. The thing there is that it is always a 90 minutes game. So, it is enough for us to meet Senegal in the final and they are not having their best of days and might have a better team and we will still win the cup. That is the beautiful thing about the Nations Cup.

Back then in the Super Eagles, you were one big family, what was the winning factor for you guys?

We were one big family on the pitch. If you read my book, you would understand because I revealed the truth about it. We were one big family once the referee blew the whistle.

Finally, you were at the African Nations Cup in 1994 which Nigeria won, 2000 whether country got the silver and the bronze in 2002. Can you tell us your best memories of the AFCON and as a Super Eagles player in general?

My best memory of the AFCON was obviously the one we won and also the one we got to the final in Lagos in 2000 which taught me so many things that I didn’t even know about myself.

To digress, though, one thing there is that I understand that things are hard in Nigeria but at the end of the day, when you look at one thing, Covid has taught us now is that you have to think of your own people too.

Now that we have our own person that is coaching now, especially the press, don’t make it a joy to attack. No matter any beef you might have against any nationals, this is a time that everybody needs one another, so you guys shouldn’t just attack just like that, support Eguavoen. It is not easy.

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  • Four four two 2 years ago

    ” They must adopt the Nigerian style of play ; pace and aggression if they must win the cup” this clause brought back memory of Eagles glory days . That was Rohrs greatest undoing. Playing very slowly without fast wingers. I believe by 2moro we are going to witness a Super Eagles with a rebirth style of play having Nigeria written all over it

  • Douglas john ufuoma 2 years ago

    Nigeria style of football that you played which lead you to run away from duty when you thought there was no hope, OK continue.

    • 1416inno 2 years ago

      Point of correction, Oliseh did not runaway. Those who have no business with sports were involved when he took over. They do not want to accord him even half of the respect given to Rohr. Please, try to understand that because Oliseh knows their inferiority mentality. They prefer to pay provide Rhor with six months pay upfront as opposed to Oliseh. Oliseh gets his pay in arrears.

  • All the players should use this opportunity to launch themselves into limelight. The world is watching and this is January, still in the buying season. With that mindset, they will do well and displace those regulars that are not around for any reason. The super regulars should do better for a pay rise in their clubs and suitors will come over. No magic method here.

  • Even the controversial Africa Guardiola assent to playing football by getting result without minding how fascinating it is anyway, we hope our “own” play good football and win the cup..

  • And alas Oliseh was right. He’s a coach of quality too.
    Congrats Eguavoen and the Super Eagles. Shame on the NFF for persisting with Rohr

    • 1416inno 2 years ago

      I am in support of hiring people who also hire us to coach their national team. When we need foreign coaches, we should go to Trinidad and Tobago, Mali, or Tanzania to hire one. This is because in some occasions they have hired some of our coaches. Some of our coaches have some coaching badges these people we are hiring does not acquire. Do you remember when Rhor wanted NFF to send him to coaching course and observation to some club. When this did not happen he became frustrated and verbalized that NFF promised so many things that did not materialize.

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