The hugely anticipated unveiling ceremony for the new Head Coach of the Nigeria national soccer team, Sunday Oliseh, may not hold today after all, according to feelers emanating from the National Sports Commission (NSC) and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Though the NFF appeared set to go ahead with the event scheduled to hold at the conference centre of the National Stadium in Abuja, inability of the soccer body to fulfill NSC’s directives on the matter as at Tuesday evening could be a stumbling block. After sacking the erstwhile Eagles’ coach, Stephen Keshi, the NFF had swiftly move to appoint Oliseh as replacement and his unveiling scheduled for today, but the sports commission had frowned at the development claiming it was not carried along in the whole arrangement and more importantly, that the NFF has not followed due process in the appointment of Oliseh and his Belgian assistant, Jean Francois Losciuto. The NSC, it was learnt, had queried the procedure used in hiring Oliseh and Losciuto claiming it did not comply with the Procurement Act.
The foreign assistant, the commission added, also needs the clearance of the Federal Government, which ought to be done by the National Sports Commission. Apparently jolted by the NSC reaction, the leadership of the NFF moved to pacify the Director General of the sports commission, Al Hassan Yakmut.
General Secretary of the soccer body, Dr. Muhammed Sanusi, on Monday had a close door meeting with the NSC DG in his office, where Sanusi solicited support for the unveiling of Oliseh as the new coach of the Super Eagles. Yaknut, it was gathered, acceded to Sanusi’s request but not without issuing a caveat: That the NFF must comply with the Procurement Act before the unveiling ceremony. When contacted on the development, Assistant Director, Media, of the NFF, Ademola Olajire, told The UNION that, “all arrangements put in place by the NFF for the unveiling of Oliseh remain unaltered. “But I would be issuing further clarification later in the day.” Further clarification, however, did not come at the time of filing this report.
Oliseh pleads for Enyeama
Meanwhile, even before assumption of duty, Oliseh has impressed it on the NFF on the need to soft pedal on moves by the federation to strip goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama of the Eagles’ captainship band, with a view to easing him out of the team for alleged indiscipline. Oliseh revealed his plan of retaining Enyeama as leader of the Super Eagles based on the vast experience of the Lille shot stopper.
Enyeama, it will be recalled, had prior to the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Chad in Kaduna voiced concern over security of the Super Eagles, a comment the NFF described as embarrassing to the Kaduna State government, host and sponsor of the match. Reacting to NFF’s decision to query Enyeama over the issue, Oliseh had in a June 25 interview wondered why a professional footballer should be queried like a civil servant. Enyeama, he said, “has the right to express his view and if the NFF has any misgivings, it should have him out and iron out the issue”.
“It’s amusing that in 2015 a football federation could be acting in this manner,” said Oliseh. “If he feels his life is being endangered, he can say it out, and if the NFF feels uncomfortable with it, the president (Amaju Pinnick) or any other official can call him aside and explain reasons why the match has to be played in Kaduna. “The president can tell him ‘look we’re cash-strapped and only this state is willing to help us out by hosting the game’. Of course with assurances that the players are safe, and that’s the end.”