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Eagles: Okocha Lobbies NFF For Assistant Coach Job

Oladipo Okubanjo

Barely 48 hours to the unveiling of Sunday Oliseh as new head coach of the Nigeria national soccer team, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is in a fix over an alleged bid by Head of the federation’s Technical Study Group, Austin Okocha, to be an assistant to the new gaffer. While Oliseh has been given the go ahead to resume along with his preferred assistant, Jean Francois Losciuto of the Netherlands, other assistants that the NFF has lined up to work with him are Salisu Yusuf and Ike Shorounmu, two members of the former coach Stephen Keshi’s boot room staff.

But Okocha, a former teammate of Oliseh in the Super Eagles has reportedly made a last-ditch move to assist the latter, with the Delta State Football Association chairman allegedly reaching out to several top officials of the NFF as discussions continued between the soccer body and Oliseh. Ironically, Okocha has always maintained he does not wish to be a coach and also his relationship with Oliseh is far from cordial.

“Okocha reached out to some top officials to proposed himself as assistant coach to Oliseh,” a source told Africanfootball.com. “But two things are working against him – first, he does not have any coaching papers and secondly, he and Oliseh do not see eye-to-eye since ‘Jay Jay’ replaced Oliseh as Eagles skipper to the 2002 World Cup.

“Many still believe Okocha stabbed Oliseh in the back by doing so and that Oliseh has not forgotten or forgiven.” Efforts at getting Okocha to react to the allegation proved abortive as he was said to be unavailable. Meanwhile, Oliseh is expected to arrive Nigeria from his Belgian base today along with his assistant Loscuito. Both will meet with the NFF Technical Committee headed by Felix Anyansi-Agwu by 9pm same day at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

The Executive Committee of the NFF will unveil Oliseh as the new head coach of the national team on Wednesday. The former Super Eagles captain is set to take over from Keshi, who was sacked from the job in June after reportedly applying for the Ivory Coast hot seat, just weeks after agreeing a new deal with the NFF.

Oliseh’s proposed appointment has, however, been met with mixed responses, with many questioning the tactician’s qualifications, with his previous coaching experience limited to one year with Belgium outfit RCS Vervietois between 2008 and 2009. However, his billing as a Nigerian football hero and his familiarity with the country’s various footballing structures may give him an advantage, especially when it comes to earning the respect and commitment of the Super Eagles squad.

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