As football-loving Nigerians continue to react to the recent outburst of the Super Eagles handler from his base in Belgium, the last may not have been heard between Coach Sunday Oliseh and his employers, IKENNA OKONKWO writes
The recent social media tirade deplored by ‘Belgium-based’ embattled Super Eagles Head Coach Sunday Oliseh to get back at his critics including ex-teammates, sporting journalists among others has again triggered a new twist in what many choose to describe as one allegation, too many to discern.
Although the possibility of working with witches (those who dislike one’s progress within a system) was not far-fetched, the way and manner Oliseh, former Super Eagles Captain who retired unceremoniously choose to convey his message have left most stakeholders wondering.
Their amazement stem from the fact that at no point should criticism translate to a state of insanity neither will any ‘sane’ team handler or tactician be unaware that not everyone around him must be at the same page with all he does.
They equally stated that for the current Eagles’ manager who was engaged barely eight months ago after former Coach Stephen Keshi was fired by the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF shot himself on the foot by descending so low in his response. They are of the view that if every critic is insane, insanity surely dwells with the one wh first of all laid accusation on others.
Oliseh’s many ranting moments
Before his appointment as the senior national coach, Oliseh has severally criticized former head coach even when he won Nations Cup in less than one year after he took charge of Eagles in 2013. Keshi against all odds engineered Nigeria’s Super Eagles to bring back continental trophy, 19 years after it was won by Nigeria and went ahead to grab bronze at 2014 African Nations Championship, CHAN with not-too impressive home-based players from the then down-graded Nigeria Premier League.
The Delta-born Oliseh whose appointment as a national coach described by many as without due process appeared surprising to many stakeholders had labeled Keshi and his technical crew as those who lacked technical know-how to handle three times African champions. Without requisite coaching experience, Oliseh’s retirement as a national player was marred by his rain of insults on his coaches, the country’s football association back then as well as the then Minister of Sports.
At his unveiling at the man in charge of Eagles, Oliseh who choose to trade softly penultimate day claimed that he has matured with age and that his style of living and ranting as a player was a thing of the past.
He went further to stamp his ‘born again’ claim two months ago when he cautioned Dream Team coach Samson Siasia for speaking out on backlog of salaries and allowances owed him, his assistants and players. In fact he cautioned Siasia by telling him, “This is a family affair. I will not go to the public to say anything against my employer we will settle it in house…”
Public verdict…vox populi
Amidst all the reactions which trailed Oliseh’s outburst, most Nigerians blamed his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, whose President Amaju Pinnick single handedly went to Belgium and convinced him to coach the Nigeria most revered team.
A social critic Aderonke Bello who choose to make her opinion known upon hearing Oliseh attack the country’s football family via her facebook posited “I do not blame Oliseh but the desperate NFF who employed you without any due process or worthy experience because they were bent on reprisals of chasing Stephen Keshi away.
“Oh! How I miss the trophy winning team coached by Stephen Keshi and Daniel Amokachi. At least they won Bronze at CHAN despite our poor league status but Oliseh cannot even make it out of the group, he is still lamenting.
“Oliseh is so lousy, all he knows how to do is cause chaos, as I remember though I was young, he insulted a sports minister, football officials and now Journalists calling them INSANE! First of all you should expect criticism if you are a leader, you cannot satisfy everyone. Even with results, Keshi was criticized and eventually sacked – what have you won with your almighty coaching certificate – Nothing!”
Similarly, former Super Eagles tactician Adegboye Onigbinde equally heaped blames on the doors of NFF adding “I don’t think I have seen where an employee turns round to lambast his employers. Oliseh is on contract and whether the contract allows him to do what he is doing, I wouldn’t know.
“What I find ridiculous is the embarrassment this is causing the image of Nigeria. Oliseh going out to lambast our football, saying people are asking him to write a report and criticizing him, calling them insane.
“Again that is not his fault; it is the fault of the system. Before he was employed, was his character considered, judging from when he was as a player? Was his state of health considered? Has it not reflected in his performances? Was his level of experience considered before he was employed? So all the blame cannot be placed on him.”
Also speaking, another ex-Eagles handler Christian Chukwu submitted “I was shocked to read the insults. That is unprofessional and pathetic. It shows that Oliseh needs help. Coaching is not only on the field, it is more also on your conduct outside.
“All coaches take the bashing when they lose and also take the glory when they win or do well. Even players get criticized. It is a healthy thing in football which helps the coaches to work harder. Look at Mourinho, Van Gaal. They are reputable coaches but they are always on the firing line. What fans and owners know is victory.
“Honestly, I think that Oliseh needs the services of a crack PR person to guard him on how to talk. Trivializing CHAN is an insult on African football and his employers. Didn’t he know before he went for the competition? He should have allowed his assistants to tinker the team since it was not worth playing or winning. If he had won will he be saying it was not important? When he beat Niger 4 – 1, I didn’t hear him call people celebrating as insane or mad. He should grow up. Is coaching the Super Eagles from Belgium part of his contract?” Chukwu asked.
Needless apology, remedy to possible sack order?
Though after raining all forms of abuse on the masses, his personal assistant, Babyaro Babangida tendered an apology to NFF on his behalf but that seems needless to most football lovers. Many believed that the cagey-like contract entered into between NFF officials and Oliseh would have crippled the hands of cash-strapped Nigerian football administrators who by now should have concluded arrangement to part ways with former captain.
Former Nigeria international, Felix Owolabi Owolabi who earlier asked Nigerians to accept his apology however alluded to the fact that he anticipated tough times for Nigeria’s Super Eagles after the exit of Keshi. According to Owolabi “I remember when Keshi left. I said after Keshi, we will find it difficult to get somebody that will give us a good team in any championship. And it is not more than a year that Keshi left – look at what is happening.
“Even in the case of Keshi, because he was getting results, he thought he was on top of the world. He could talk to anybody anyhow. There must be politeness in anything we are doing.” Owolabi however called on Nigerians to continue supporting Oliseh in spite of the recent developments.
“The Super Eagles is our brand. Let us support him. Right now, he is a confused man. He is not finding his rhythm, which was the reason for his outburst. Like I said if I were him, I will keep quiet and tell Nigerians please next time we will do better. A coach is always held responsible for anything that happens to a team. If you get results, people will praise you and when the results are not coming, they will say their mind. So I urge all Nigerians to forgive him and look at how better we want the Super Eagles to be because we are all human beings.”
The entire ugly scenario is taking barely one month to crucial double header AFCON qualifier between Nigeria and Egypt. Only at lease a win and draw could only secure 2017 Nations Cup ticket for Africa most populous country.