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Nigerian Football – A Slightly Different Perspective!  –Odegbami

Nigerian Football – A Slightly Different Perspective!  –Odegbami

These are sad times in Nigerian football.

The events of the past two weeks have opened up a can of worms, plus the opportunity of a microscopic look beyond the superficiality of the incomprehensible drama.

There is ‘madness’ in the air. 

Nigerian football is currently being white-washed and sun-dried in the global information superhighway.

Suddenly, nothing is right about Nigerian football, not even the seemingly improving domestic leagues, the steady growth of the women’s game, the explosion in the domestic football business, and the mushrooming of academies. All these have been set aside for the failure of the Super Eagles to win one simple football match at home against the weakest team ever to defeat them in history, a team annoyingly being coached by a foreign man rejected by Nigeria for taking Nigerian football back many decades.  That singular defeat has also, now, taken Nigerian football development back several decades, nullifying even the small gains at AFCON 2023. 

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Worse still, the loss by the Super Eagles and the resignation of Finidi George, have both been dwarfed by the cursing and ranting (from ‘nowhere) of Victor Osimhen. It is now the most-talked about issue in the Nigerian football space, setting off mayhem in the football structure – what to do or not to do with Osimhen.

Also Read: Nigerian Football At The Crossroads!  –Odegbami

On the current billboard of Nigerian football are all the ugliness, the illegalities, the mediocrities, the injustices, the frailties, the failures in the system, everything in all their nakedness, tiworo tiworo! It is so bad that no one knows exactly what to make of it all, or how best to resolve the resultant issues. 

Permit me to peer through my microscope into why in 5 short months, Nigerian football plunged from near the pinnacle of ultimate  success to the dungs of an unprecedented and most shameful defeat. What could have gone so drastically wrong?

The reality is that at the end of the day, it is the players and how they perform that determine the measure of success or failure of football administrations. When a team wins, everything is right. When a team loses, everything is wrong. 

It is as simple as that. There are no in-betweens.

Even the era of football administration in Nigeria that is often referred to as a model is only so rated because the Super Eagles played extremely well and won trophies for Nigeria in the early to mid-1990s. Inside the boardroom, at the time (I was a witness), it was also chaotic.

Some 5 months ago, Nigeria broke its own standards. The country rewarded ‘second-best’. She rewarded a team that did not win the trophy in a way such as the world had never seen before.  

In history, Nigeria had lost, rather painfully, several finals of previous AFCONs. Twice, in 1988 and 2000, great squads of the Eagles’ that were even glaringly ‘robbed’ of their moments of glory were not welcomed with blaring trumpets, and no celebrations were held to honour or reward their valiant efforts.  

Put that side-by-side the Super Eagles of AFCON 2023. No one had confidence in the team. For almost one decade before, they had won nothing, had not impressed very much, had not produced outstanding performances and performers, and so on. All of this under the tutelage of foreign White coaches. 

Then, Cote D’Ivoire in January of 2023 happened and the same players that broke the hearts of Nigerians with a lethargic performance in the final match were accorded a heroes’ welcome, feted, honoured and handsomely rewarded by the government. 

Also Read: The Baptism Of Finidi George! –Odegbami

That gesture, was totally out of character with the norm. It must have come with a consequence or a price, as an impetus or a depressant. The players may have concluded they were special indeed. 

From amongst them, the most celebrated player before, during and after AFCON who did not deposit one single moment of magic, a single moment of brilliance for posterity to play back and celebrate in testimony to Africa’s Best Player, instead goes on a ranting spree in ‘unjustifiable’ anger, spewing out venomous words like the pus from a wound against his own coach. He was not even a part of the humiliating loss to Benin Republic!.

This can only be the product of some ‘madness’ in the air of Nigerian football.  He even went to the extent of announcing that he does not care even if he is never invited to the national team again. Who says such things? 

I am muted by the events of this past week. I choose not to speak about them beyond the following:  

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Finidi George’s resignation 

Finidi George and the whole idea of hiring an indigenous coach for the country were not the desired options of the current football administrators. Finidi’s reluctant engagement was wrapped in so much bad-blood and negative intentions that it was doomed to fail!

There was no way he would not have failed even though losing to Benin Republic was never on the cards, and is a totally unacceptable result. So, Finidi’s decision to leave the poisoned Chalise alone by resigning is the most honourable thing to do. 

Microscope on the Super Eagles

I am looking microscopically at the Nigerian players. 

What has been staring the country in the face for over a decade is the dwindling number of exceptionally-gifted players in many positions on the field. 

For several years we stuck with a goalkeeper that was glaringly short on safe-hands. I cannot understand why two foreign coaches defiantly stuck to him. Is it confirmation that there is a deficit of great goalkeepers in the country?

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At the full-back positions, only Ola Aina has shown consistency and exceptional brilliance down the right-side of the field over several years. The left-side has been the opposite, porous and so weak sometimes that Aina has had to be moved to the left-side to cover up for this weakness on occasions. 

Also Read: Let Nigeria Revive NNPC/Shell Cup! –Odegbami

The centre of Nigeria’s defence line has been weak. At AFCON 2023, William Troost-Ekong rose to the challenge and provided leadership and great cover for that weakness.  The first goal scored by Benin Republic against Nigeria in the absence of William clearly confirms this glaring weakness. There are no bona fide Central defenders currently in the Nigerian team.

In the midfield, Nigeria has a few names like Wilfred Ndidi and Alex Iwobi. They are very good players until you start to compare them with those before them, the engine room of most of Nigeria’s great teams of the past – Samuel Garba, Haruna Ilerika, Mudashiru Lawal, Henry Nwosu, Jay Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Kanu Nwankwo and so on? And I do not mean any disrespect to the mid-field players in the current Super Eagles. 

There is an array of many good forwards in the current Nigerian team, but goalscoring has been in serious deficit, a reflection of their completeness compared to a glorious past that would surely include amongst many great names, that of Finidi George, the scape goat of a failed system.  

That is the reality.

Nigeria needs a new team of players in several positions. These players cannot be conjured into being by wishful thinking. They will come only through a proper production line established by administrators that know what they are doing! 

 


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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 8
  • Kenneth 4 weeks ago

    HMMMMMMMMM,

    God continue to bless you uncle Sege, you have nailed it all. Nothing else to add or say. When we keep shouting that some players are crap and rubbish they keep coming up with excuses for us to keep them, or blame the coach. Am happy you called out that crybaby, only in Nigeria such ranting would be swept under the rug. Abeg allow to repost that statement you typed with passion.

    “The reality is that at the end of the day, it is the players and how they perform that determine the measure of success or failure of football administrations. When a team wins, everything is right. When a team loses, everything is wrong.

    It is as simple as that. There are no in-between”

  • Dr Banks 4 weeks ago

    Segun Odegbami was my hero on the pitch growing up but has since turned out to be a villain on the pages of CSN and other tabloids.

    Segun, your best came out to the fore under the tutelage of a foreign coach Otto Gloria. But you are here now disparaging any foreign coach that handles SE.

    You called Rohr a Nigeria reject? That is the longest serving coach Nigeria ever had. We all know that you started his decline by forcing a journeyman Yobo with zero coaching training on Rohr but even then, the worst of Rohr time is far better than all the coaches after him.

    Quite befitting then than Rohr could smatch the asses of SE with a group of unknown players, are you not ashamed? It is obvious that your opinions are so archaic in the current dispensation and what is best is for you to hang up your destructive pen, very long overdue.

    • Douglas John Ufuoma 4 weeks ago

      Leave that old man that refuse to accept reality, Pele of Brazil, zidane of France maradona of Argentina and others don’t drag their national into the shit like how he always do

    • Segun Odegbami cannot escape this current calamity as he championed the call for local coaches.He forgot that the former NFF swore to engage foreign coach having seen the performances of the crops of 1994 set they engaged as coaches for Eagles.Even Amunake that Zamalek engaged was shoved aside within six months there yet he was being touted for the Eagles job.Odegbami is part of the albatross bedeviling our Eagles with his deliberate calls for the failed local coaches.

  • Douglas John Ufuoma 4 weeks ago

    Old age they said comes with wisdom but greedy and selfishness have turn it to be something else to some persons. I am not sure the writer of the episode went through what he wrote, if not he would have been ashamed of it.
    First let’s address Rohr, as a former coach of Nigeria, he was never a failure either did he perform below bar. In fact he turn qualifications into inter-house sport that we all throw away out calculators. He constantly qualify from the Africa zone with games to spare, from qualifications to the the nations cup. His attackers were constantly the highest goal scores in all the qualifications he entered including the nations cups. He made the team to be wounded loins that the writer was even among those who said anybody can coach that team to bring back the nations cup. But somebody else took over what was the result, unknown coach with second eleven sending our team back home, what happened in the World Cup player off, all are history now. But the grade write developed amnesia to all this.
    The same man you called failure has turn Benin team to be one of the teams fighting to qualify siting at second play. Please remind where your team coached by a world class coach without any history in coaching let the team at. During Rohr era never Nigeria slip four set backwards in FIFA rating, but what happens when your best coach better than Rohr took over for just four matches, I repeat four matches.
    You called okocha olise and co, but you forgot to include how we struggle to qualify during time when litt or sierra Leon defeated us in their home. How we draw against Congo in 2000 nations cup, how Denmark disgrace us by 4:1, or is it the 5:0 friendly matches before the World Cup. Is it the coup poise and Finidi plotted why we lose to Senegal in 2002 nations cup, or how the almighty 1994 teams players select matches they play. I am not surprise, let’s imagine zidane uses is glory days of playing to coach do you think he would have been a coach. Look at Michael emenalo olofijana, Efe Ambrose and others were they not once ex-players, are they causing confusion like the crop of pull him down mentality ex we have today.
    At your age you should be clamoring for excellence and not mediocrity, your finidi invited a player from Tanzania of all league, you didn’t see anything wrong with it when we have defenders from Belgium, Germany, England, Scotland that would have done the job for us. You finidi start an attacker that has just managed 2 goals in more than three years in Eagles colour you did see anything wrong with it. He started a match rusted play in attack, benched his saviour against South Africa, still you didn’t see anything wrong with it. Anyways, I didn’t accept much from you. You can’t ask to toad to give you chair to sit.
    If the locals coaches were good as you claimed when last did Nigeria ever qualify for Chan compitition, when last did any Nigeria club side ever get to quarter-final in any CAF competition. You said players should be blamed for losing matches, my elder statesman you are right. Passengers should be blamed for any road accidents. If players decide winning and losing of games why wasting money to pay coaches and managers. Carlo anchelot, Roberto Mancini, zidane, Pep Guardiola and others would have make name for themselves. I am not still surprised, Nigeria was below 8th position in Africa, a place your so called world local coaches for siasia to Olise took us to, the man you called failure took us from their to number 3rd in Africa and he stood as number 4 before leaving. A position your deity finidi was not able to maintain. If England was to be Nigeria would they have progress, look at Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina and others that’s have players that have sacrificed and won a lot for the country, are there ex-players sinking their nation team like our own, hmmmm

  • ABDULRAZAK 4 weeks ago

    OGA ARITHMETICAL ABI NA MATHEMATICAL. YOUR WATERY AND TRULY BORING EPISTLE IS OF NO VALUE OR CONSEQUENCE. YOU AND YOUR CO PROPAGANDISTS ARE THE REASONS WHY WE ARE WHERE WE ARE TODAY. RADARADA

  • Larry 4 weeks ago

    Uncle shege, once again your article is filled with inconsistencies. It appears to me that you are looking for safe landing to accomodate your failed thesis on local vs foreign coaches.
    No doubt, the nation is blessed with talented individuals with coaching potentials.I’m not talking about serial failures and self entitled ones (Amunike, Finidi,and other 94 mafias).

    The issue is that you have continued to chase shadows while ignoring the main problem (the nff).
    I. Despite available facts, you refused to critically examine the reason for the for the continous snub smart and intelligent technocrats (Emenalo, Olofin) with high qualifications and traction. The nff will not hire Emenenalo or Olofin for the technical head or technical adviser because they will find it difficult to manipulate them to achieve use and dump policy.

    II. Your analysis of the caliber of playerd is spot-on but its watery because you missed or ignored the bigger issue. According to several sources, Finidi raised the point of godfatherism, imposition of players by oga at the top, interference with players invitation and team selection. When the list of invited players got released, yours sincerely and other exceptionally talented analyst on this forum raised alarm on the invitation of certain players when better ones are available.
    Why Awaziem and Taminu when you have the reliable Balogun is getting top ratings and accolodates.
    Finidi and his cohorts had the guts to invite an injured Onyeka or recuperating underperformer Chukwueze when the team leader and mvp of AFCON is fit to help the defence.
    How did Kelechi get selected ahead of other regulars. Kelechi is a senior bench warmer in EFL (division. 2) league playing less than 50 mins of the over 500 minutes of club actions.
    Not forgetting, the selection of the worst striker ever in the national team colors (Onuachu).
    I suspect these are the players Finidi made reference of.
    Talking about indiscipline, a visionary organization would have given Ndidi, Kelechi, and Iwobi the right treament. Kelechi and Ndidi for leaving camp to hangout with Sabinus in a different state. Iwobi for arriving camp a day to the match.
    All these recent headlines suggest that the nff is laying the groundwork alreasy to bring in another local or foreign stoogee that they can control.
    Irrespective of color, what the team needs is an experienced manager and technocrat with traction. The manager must not have been out of job for more than 1 yr.

    • Douglas John Ufuoma 4 weeks ago

      They will leave the substance and be running after shadow. None of let’s fail with our own have ever mention emenalo, olofijana that have written their names with gold in professional football, but they keep calling seria failures like Saisia, Olise, amunike and co that only hope on Nigeria coaching 

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