●No Nation Has Won It With A Foreign Coach
●How Do We Go With Eagles Ahead Qatar 2022?
●Stick With Rohr Or Try Siasia/Amunike Collabo?
Since 1930 when the first ever FIFA World Cup was hosted by Uruguay, no winner has emerged with a coach outside of her shores. The champions have always been handled by a homegrown coach so to say. A home boy or man if you like, a national.
Countries that think along this line especially with the mindset of a mystery behind it have tried to come to the tournament with their nationals as coaches. Aside the fact that it is less expensive to hire an indigenous coach, your team appears protected from issues like match fixing since the coach is hungry and desirous of making an impact and casting his name on and with gold. He wants to carve a niche for himself by giving the job his best and all.
He is more dedicated to work. He puts on the clad of a patriot and feels honoured leading his country as the chosen and lucky one among his colleagues. He understands the players better. He understands their mentality and temperament. He lives in his country. He knows their strengths and weaknesses. He cannot and does not walk away when the team crashes out of the World Cup like we saw on two previous occasions with Bora Milutinovic and Lars Lagerback. Most foreign coaches who hang on after World Cup disasters often do so simply because they have no better offers to move on.
In picking the final 23 for the World Cup, the indigenous coach always considers the home based players. He gives one or two of them opportunities to lift the image of the domestic game and league. He boosts the reputation of the local league and projects the strength, passion and determination of the local players. This attracts great attention, interests snd opportunities from top clubs in Europe and brings foreign exchange for the FA directly and indirectly boosting the country’s economy.
Unfortunately, Nigeria does not often think along this line for very obvious reasons. One of them is the “cut” some FA officials especially those who brought in the foreign coach will get from his deal and package. Secondly, there is this claim that local coaches play ethnic cards in call up of players and team selection. Thirdly, the local coaches are accused of receiving bribes from players’ agents and representatives to invite them into the national team and they even collect money to field the players for games. Fourthly, the local coaches are said to lack exposure, modern technics, rules and regulations of the sport because they don’t go for refresher courses. And those who wish to go for such courses lack the funds to do so. Five, the local coaches are said to be too naive to handle and control “millionaire” players who ply their trade in top foreign clubs thus earning big money, so much so that the coaches get intimidated by their sheer presence in camp. Six, the coaches are accused of inferiority complex knowing that the foreign players play in Europe under great and big name coaches with top notch facilities. So what do they have to impact on a foreign based player playing for say Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid or FC Barcelona?
However, if the mystery of winning the World Cup should be followed by the unravelled fact of winners using local coaches or nationals then, Nigeria cannot be isolated irrespective of the reasons given for not hiring a local coach for World Cup assignments.
Nigeria may not be thinking or planning to win the World Cup but who says such dream cannot become a reality in the spirit of the mystery. But even if it is assumed by anyone that Nigeria winning the World Cup is a mere cheap dream, such dream could land Nigeria at least in the semi-final which is a big achievement…..still under the influence and control of the mystery.
And from there we can dream bigger.
Since 1994 when the Super Eagles made their debut appearance in the World Cup till date (six times on the whole), it is just twice that homegrown coaches led the country to the mundial…..in Korea/Japan 2002 and Brazil 2014 by Festus Onigbinde and Late Stephen Keshi respectively.
Late Shuaibu Amodu qualified the country on two occasions but he was deprived the opportunities to led the team to both tournaments in France ’98 and Korea/Japan 2002 which his compatriot Onigbinde took charge.
Does Nigeria have good local coaches who if well motivated and given free hands could do better than their foreign counterparts who have been hired severally in the past without significant results? The answer is yes.
Recall that aside Clemence Westerhorf and Bora Milutinovic who handled Nigeria in USA ’94 and France ’98, the other foreign coaches have failed to cross the group stages, talking about Lars Lagerback and Gernot Rohr in 2010 and 2018 editions respectively. This is why Stephen Keshi remains a hero to millions of Nigerians for taking the Brazil 2014 squad to the second round where they lost to France just like Westerhorf and Bora did in ’94 and ’98 respectively.
Keshi remains the best local or indigenous coach Nigeria has ever had.
It is on the premise of Keshi’s feat (which of course includes winning the 2013 AFCON) that many believe that sentiment apart and if the FA officials could give the same level of respect, support, free hand and funding to local coaches especially by paying their salaries and other entitlements promptly and approving their programmes like international friendlies and training tours, they will excel.
Most times the FA has had issues with local coaches, the problem borders on owing them salaries for months and when they complain, they get the boot.
Another reason is interference on the part of some FA officials who want to combine their duties with coaching. They want to dictate to the coaches and when the later say no, they get fired or frustrated to resign. There is also the issue of imposing players on the local coaches which is not done to their foreign colleagues when employed. It is a known secret that most of the FA officials are players’ agents. So they attempt at all times to armtwist the local coaches to invite their players and hand them first team shirts just to expose them to top European clubs to buy.
If FIFA can include ex-international Emmanuel Amunike in the Technical Study Group for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup then, there is something positive and great about the 1994 African Footballer of the Year winner and our indigenous coaches that the FA may or does not recognize. Here is a young coach who led the nation’s U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets to conquering the world in 2015. He holds a UEFA Coaching License and has played for FC Barcelona.
There is also Samson Siasia who has been in and out of the national team in recent times. Nigerians believe that he is one of the best and trusted coaches who could mould a team to play typical Nigerian style of free-flowing and attacking football. His record with the U-20 silver winning team in Holland 2005 FUFA U-20 World Cup and U-23 bronze medal winning side in Rio 2016 Olympic Games are testaments to his pedigree.
Perhaps these two if brought together to work with Super Eagles ahead of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup could bring the country the luck, glory and triumph attached to the mystery of winning the World Cup or at least reaching the last eight or four. Sure Rohr did his best in Russia which wasn’t good enough for a country with six appearances at the World Cup. For those talking about Super Eagles having having a young team for the future, they should be reminded that we did not go to the World Cup or Russia to present a young team to the world. More so, England also took a young team to Russia yet she reached the semi-final.
By Desmond Ekwueme