By Nurudeen Obalola:
New Nigeria coach Sunday Oliseh has admitted his job is made more difficult because there are not many players of top quality available to him.
The former Super Eagles captain said he initially had his doubts about taking up the offer of managing the 2013 African champions because he was not totally convinced by the depth of the squad.
“To coach Nigeria is not the easiest job in the world and one is only as good as the players,” Oliseh told the FIFA website.
“Nigeria at the moment has a lot of potential, but we don’t have a lot of confirmed players in the top clubs in the top leagues, so taking over the national team now means we have to remake the whole team and introduce a new philosophy of playing style, of culture and mentality. That is very difficult to do when you are the national team coach because you have very limited time with the players unlike when you coach a club. So that is why I was very hesitant.
“For some years now, there have been offers and discussions about me taking over. It has been on the table, but it has not yet happened because the timing was off.”
The 1994 Africa Cup of Nations winner however added that he was encouraged by the backing of Nigerian fans.
He added: “When I came into Nigeria to have talks, I came out of the airport and I knew there was no going back because all the way from the airport, my countrymen where saying: ‘You have to take the job, you have to take the job.’ So I did.”
The Super Eagles will face the winners of the first round match between Djibouti and Swaziland for a place in the group phase of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Oliseh is confident Nigeria will negotiate that round successfully.
“It is going to be very, very difficult, but I believe we can qualify. All we have to do is look at ourselves, try to improve our game and hopefully we will qualify,” he said, while insisting that his lack of coaching experience will not affect his team’s progress.
“I don’t think that is a drawback though. Time will tell, but I took the job to be successful. But first we have to qualify.
“Our ambition is to get the best to play for Nigeria, and football is getting faster these days and it keeps getting faster and faster. The tempo is different now, and we can see in the first division of most nations that is where the tempo is.”
The coach, who has signed a three-year contract and will continue to live in Belgium but travel to Nigeria as often as is necessary, confessed that he was embarking on a difficult path. “We are practically starting from scratch, so that is why I am saying that people should not expect miracles from us.”
However, he has not lost sight of his immediate expectations as he gets set to lead the team out for the first time in the AFCON qualifier against Tanzania in September.
He adds in the FIFA.com article: “We all have dreams, and I am hoping I will be as successful as I can be. But one has to be realistic also. We have just started, and our first step is to hopefully just win against Tanzania. That is what I am praying for. Game by game.”