New head coach of the Nigeria men’s national soccer team, Sunday Oliseh has revealed how he initially rejected the offer of coaching the team he captained between 1998 and 2002 before he eventually capitulated. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had on July 15 unveiled Oliseh as head coach of the Super Eagles at a well-attended ceremony in Abuja.
The 40-year-old former Ajax Amsterdam and Juventus midfielder replaced former Nigeria teammate, Stephen Keshi, who was sacked for disloyalty. Oliseh, who had since returned to his Belgium base pending the start of preparation for Nigeria’s next African Cup of Nations qualifier away to Tanzania, said when he was offered the job his first thought and reply was “no I am not interested”.
He wrote on his website: “When I was proposed the job, my first thought and reply was ‘no I’m not interested, but after a second thought and discussions with family and close confidants, I could not help but go back on my decision as I decided to borrow a leaf from the new President of Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari, who at over 70 is bent on trying to bring about change and better the lives of his compatriots.”
Acknowledging the intricacy of the job he accepted, Oliseh promised to give nothing below his best. “It is an uphill task that could blow away the good name that God blessed one with, but if there is one thing everyone can be rest assured of coming from me will be the input of 150% of my efforts to improve what we have,” he added.
Meanwhile, Oliseh has given hints about Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi’s likely return to the Super Eagles’ fold when the team face Tanzania’s Tafia Stars during the first week of September.
The midfielder last played for Nigeria in November 2014, when the Super Eagles drew 2-2 with South Africa in a 2015 Nations Cup qualifier in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
“Mikel still remains one of Nigeria’s top stars in Europe even he is no longer playing regularly for Chelsea these days and that is why he will be part of Oliseh’s immediate plans, beginning with the AFCON qualifier in Tanzania next month,” a top official informed AfricanFootball.com “But instead of giving him a free role as he has been given in the Eagles in the past, he will play as a defensive midfielder, like he does for his club.”
The Super Eagles are second behind Egypt in the qualifying group for the 2017 Afcon in Gabon after they beat Chad 2-0 in Kaduna in June.