Nigerians have been assured of unprecedented successes as ex-international, Sunday Oliseh, yesterday, assumed duty as Head Coach of the Nigeria national soccer team. Prior to the signing of the three-year contract between the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Oliseh, top brass of the soccer body were lavish in their praises and hearty in their approbation of the former Super Eagles captain, with both the NFF president Amaju Pinnick and chairman of the federation’s Technical Committee Chris Green, in different interviews, likening the new Nigeria coach to Bayern Munich manager, Pep Guardiola. Pinnick, who said the NFF couldn’t have made any other choice, revealed Oliseh’s name came on instantly once the federation made enquiries at FIFA. “When we got in touch with FIFA for suggestions on who to employ as Super Eagles’ coach, the name on every lip was Oliseh,” said Pinnick.
“Don’t forget he is a member of the FIFA Technical Study Group and a trainer of trainees and trainer of trainers. “For people who say he is inexperienced, I urge them to be patient, because young men get the result in modern coaching. Guardiola had no experience before taking over at Barcelona, and the man we have employed (Oliseh) is very knowledgeable about the game just like Guardiola “Again, Jurgen Klinsmann had no experience before he was appointed by the United States. Even the current Barcelona coach Luis Enrique had no experience, but all of them are achievers today “So, Nigerians should look forward to many successes ahead. The NFF will do everything possible to make sure that Oliseh succeeds.” Oliseh, according to Green, is Africa’s answer to Guardiola.
“We met with him all through Tuesday night till 2am on Wednesday and most of us marveled at his deep understanding of the game. “Guardiola had no experience whatsoever before he was appointed coach of Barcelona and he won 14 titles before leaving for Bayern Munich. Oliseh is Africa’s Guardiola, just wait and see,” said the NFF executive committee member. Oliseh, who earned 63 caps for Nigeria and helped the Super Eagles win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic gold in 1996, replaces Stephen Keshi, a former Nigeria teammate who was sacked for disloyalty.
A former Ajax, Juventus and Dortmund midfielder, Oliseh appreciates the magnitude of the work at hand. Said the 40-year-old: “We have the talent to change our fortunes, to regain the respect we once had and match that with results. “This is the biggest job in African football. With everyone’s support we can get the Super Eagles flying again. “I am here today because I believe in the NFF and the big project before us.
We had a passionate discussion and the result is the mandate to manage Nigeria. “The job doesn’t start tomorrow, it starts now, we need the support of everyone because together we can make our country great.” Nigeria football reached its highest peak when the Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations in 1994 and played in the World Cup of the same year as fifth best football playing nation in the world.
Though Keshi was able to guide the Eagles to another Nations Cup title in 2013, lackluster performance at last year’s World Cup and failure to qualify for the 2015 Nations Cup have brought Nigeria football to an all-time low with the country currently occupying the number 57 slot on the FIFA rankings. Oliseh has a mandate to qualify the Super Eagles for next year’s Nations Cup and the 2018 World Cup in Gabon and Russia respectively.
His first assignment comes up in the first week of September when he will lead the Super Eagles to Dar Es Salam to keep a date with Taifa Stars of Tanzania in a Nations Cup qualifier. Oliseh would be assisted by a coterie of coaches, who include Jean Francois Losciuto of Belgium, Salisu Yusuf and Alloy Agu, personal chosen by Oliseh as goalkeepers’ trainer.