Things just do not seem to add up in Nigerian football. I am still wondering what made Sunday Oliseh to resign his appointment as national football team coach.
His action still leaves many unanswered questions.
The act itself – to walk away from such an exalted, and one that pays wages higher than that of the president of the country – is not normal, to say the least.
Nigeria, unfortunately, does not have a tradition of people resigning honourably from any position even if they were caught red-handed committing the worst crimes imaginable. So, Sunday Oliseh’s motivation may, therefore, not have been to set an example in honourable conduct.
So, I have been searching for other more plausible reasons.
It was reported in the media that the president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, announced at a conference in the USA that his administration is finished with hiring a Nigerian to coach the senior national team and that a foreigner will soon be engaged!
Some now claim that was a premeditated action designed to trigger an anticipated reaction.
Of course, the idea to hire a foreign coach would be hard to justify, hard to sell and would be resisted by many people demanding a guarantee must be secured from the foreign coach to refund every kobo he collects from the country in the event that he fails to succeed beyond where Nigerians have succeeded!
Also, the reckless spending, deals and racketeering of the past will not find fertile ground in Nigeria’s new political and economic dispensation!
So why did the NFF fly a kite and encouraged the idea of a foreign coach when Oliseh had not failed?
A respected colleague in the media suggested to me that Sunday was shown the handwriting on the wall by the leadership of the NFF that they were already negotiating with a foreign coach to take over from him.
It was also reported that two foreign coaches were seen around some members of the NFF technical committee recently.
In that case, knowing Sunday Oliseh’s temperament, he may have been deliberately set up to ‘explode’ the way he did in an uncontrollable moment of anger!
Is that the NFF’s trigger for Sunday’s vitriolic reaction when he threw caution to the wind, went on global social media and described his critics as insane, castigated his former football colleagues, and told Nigerians to their face that he did not beg anyone to get the job to start with?
To demonstrate the confused state of his mind, only 24 hours later, he apologised for his outburst and started to make peaceful overtures again to his employers. One day later again he resigned from the job on Tweeter to the consternation of all.
It was after all this that we now learn that everything had been wrong all along with the team; that he was owed a backlog of salaries; that he was disrespected; that he paid for extra meals for his players in South Africa preparatory to CHAN in Rwanda; and so on and so forth, all unpalatable but common situations in the story of coaches and Nigerian football, and not enough to warrant his resignation from the ‘easiest’ job in the world in the face of an almost certain alternative of joblessness.
Of course, he must have known that he would be paid everything owed him somewhere down the line.
He was not doing badly with the results of the matches played under him up till CHAN 2016. Everyone was actually singing his praises when the CHAN Eagles defeated Niger. Even when the team drew against Tunisia no one heard that anything untoward was happening in the team.
Of course, failure is an orphan, and everyone started to blame everyone one else as soon as Nigeria exited the championship that he himself later described as the least important of all international competitions.
So why did Oliseh really resign?
There is a theory gaining ground. Oliseh may have resigned to ‘save’ his life. How?
There have been several stories in the media about his recent stay in the Super Eagles team that have not been refuted.
Twice it was reported Oliseh was rushed back to his base in Belgium for medical attention.
The nature of his ailment attracted all manner of interpretations, including spiritual. And once a person gets into that realm they become vulnerable to pranksters that can mentally imprison them.
For example, there have been related stories that Sunday insisted that certain backroom staff be sacked, and that staff should stop putting their hands in their pockets when coming to see him or when talking to him. Such ridiculous stories were never refuted.
Do those stories have anything to do with why he stopped coming to Nigeria to work?
Is that why he chose to remain in Europe and meet with Europe–based Nigerian players when his contract explicitly gave him additional responsibility to shop in the domestic league for players and join in developing it?
Is that why he went straight from Belgium to South Africa, and back to Belgium without stopping in Nigeria?
Is that why he refused to come and report to the NFF Technical Committee when he was invited?
Is that why he chose to unceremoniously leave the ‘easiest’ and most lucrative job in the world?
Did he have spiritual instructions not to return to the job and to Nigeria for fear of his life?
The more I think about it, as an African, the more I see the faint possibility. Only then does it all seem to add up. It starts to make a little sense.
I feel very sorry for Sunday Oliseh. With the manner, he has gone about his relationship with Nigerian football he may be the first coach that may never return to coach the national team in future.
He appears to have burnt all the bridges that could lead him back to the position.
One day I believe we shall know the truth behind his uncommon decision.
Until then, Nigerians should all just leave Sunday Oliseh to retire to his cocoon and return to what he knows best – talk, write, comment and analyse football.
He should leave the coaching to those that have the guts and the stomach to take all the ‘dirt’ that comes with the job!
Football in Nigeria after Sunday Oliseh
I foresee the ripples of recent developments sweeping away the present football administration in the country if care is not taken.
I hear the present government may not be happy with what is happening in the Glass House.
I will not be surprised if the change mantra finally gets to the sports sector and starts to affect the last vestige of the previous political dispensation.
Anyone that now claims that Nigerian sport is apolitical must go have a rethink. How did the present leadership of the various sports bodies get into power if not through the powerful machinery of the last political dispensation in the country?
Remember that the NFF is a full-fledged parastatal of the Federal Government of Nigeria despite all the posturing and bluffing by the NFF leadership, and their survival through the usual threat of a FIFA ban should they not be seen as independent.
Fortunately, even FIFA has been cut to size by recent happenings and must know better now than to get involved in the internal affairs of its members, particularly one that did not support it during the last FIFA Presidential election.
The Nigerian Coaches’ Association is also up in arms with the NFF President on the matter of a foreign coach for the Super Eagles.
The association has requested that he withdraws his reported statement or it will be forced to ask all its members in the other national teams to withdraw their services!
Coaches always come back!
Samson Siasia is back.
Indirectly, so also is Amodu Shuaibu.
Of course, Nigerian coaches always come back.
Do not be surprised when in a few months time, probably after we have missed the boat ride to the African Cup of Nations, or our World Cup campaign is threatened, even respected elder football statesman, Adegboyega Onigbinde may be called upon to return and head a consortium of coaches that may include coaching veterans Christian Chukwu, James Peters, Paul Hamilton, Tunde Disu, Fanny Amun, and so on and so forth. That is the cycle of life in Nigerian football – a musical game of chairs for previously sacked coaches!!