Oliseh must learn from Keshi’s mistakes
Keshi and Oliseh
Soccer analysts and stakeholders across the country and beyond have been reacting to the recent appointment of former Super Eagles captain, Sunday Oliseh as the new Chief Coach of the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
The NFF who last week announced the sacking of the former Chief Coach, Stephen Keshi over allegations of a breach of his contractual agreements did not waste time in naming Oliseh as his replacement with a five-year contract. This, the NFF said, will afford him the opportunity to reposition the nation’s football. Oliseh was also given approval to come with a foreign technical assistant who will be working with him alongside other local coaches already in the camp of the national team.
But despite the fact that every Nigerian who has commented on the issue knows the pedigree of the former Juventus of Italy offensive midfielder, there are still a lot of people who believe that Oliseh is not the right man for the job.
For instance former board member of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Dr. Sam Sam Jaja is of the view that what Nigeria needs at the moment is a tested foreign technical adviser. According to him, Nigerian coaches, despite the fact that Keshi was able to win the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after 19 years, are not equipped to handle the national team.
But beyond all these opinions, for Oliseh to succeed he must, most importantly, avoid the pitfalls that made Keshi to leave the job the way he did. This is so because one can still recall the wide acceptance which Keshi enjoyed when he was first announced as the team’s chief coach after the sacking of his former team mate, Samson Siasia.
It is a well known fact that after Keshi managed to win the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in 2013, he forgot that his real employers were the members of the executive committee of the NFF. He practically pledged his loyalty to other authorities outside the federation.
Granted that Keshi’s anger may have been fuelled by the alleged attempt by the NFF to have him sacked during the AFCON in South Africa before he managed to win the trophy, many analysts are of the opinion that the former coach ought to have down-played his much publicized closeness to the powers that were at that time.
Instead, he carried on as if he was the one that engaged the NFF. To make matters worse, when the NFF noticed that the country’s qualification for the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea was in serious jeopardy due largely to Keshi’s style of management and sacked him after the team struggled to beat Sudan in one of the qualifying matches, the same ‘powerful men’ ordered the NFF to reverse itself.
Some of the people who deceived Keshi probably because of their own grouse against the NFF were telling anybody who cared to listen that the continuous stay in office of the present board was based on the stay of Keshi as the national team coach. Events that followed showed that the former national team captain also played along that argument hence the constant cold war that existed between him and his employers.
One of the immediate causes of Keshi’s fall was his team selection style. Oliseh must take responsibility for the players he selects for each match. Since football is like a religion in Nigeria, the new coach must ensure that he selects his team primarily based on merit and on the current form of the players. He must avoid acting as an agent. He must avoid the temptation of engaging in the selling of players which has destroyed many coaches before him. As a coach/players manager, he could be tempted to sideline a quality player who may reject his proposal of being his manager for a substandard player.
One other area that Oliseh must work hard to improve on is his well known fiery temperament which forced his former team Borrusia Dortmund to expel him after punching a team mate Vahid Hashemian while on loan at VFL Bochum in 2004.
This therefore suggests that he must now realize that he is the coach and not a player because whatever he does positively or otherwise would reflect on not just how the team players but also how people will perceive them.
Nevertheless, he must ensure that he instils discipline in the team by ensuring that camp rules are observed to the letter. One of the factors that caused the country the 2015 AFCON appearance was the manner the former coach was said to have pampered the boys to the extent of allowing them to behave as they liked even on the eve of that much important game against South Africa in Uyo.
However, one factor that will work in Oliseh’s favour is the huge support he is receiving from some other informed stakeholders like former Green Eagles captain, Christian Chukwu and his team mates Segun Odegbami and Adokie Amiesimaka who believe that he is the right man for the job. The trio who are highly respected in Nigerian football circles are unanimous in their support for the NFF on the engagement of Oliseh.
Many others in that league also argue that despite the fact that Oliseh may not have the best of coaching experience, he has many other factors that will help him to succeed including his well known vast knowledge of the game which has stood him out as renowned analyst. Secondly over the years he has refused to work as an assistant to anybody which should suggest that he really has his game plan on how to repackage the team which has really lost every known playing pattern under Keshi.
The exploits of former Germany international Frank Backenbuer who did so well with the national team of his country despite the fact that he had no known coaching experience is another plus for Oliseh that he can also do well given the quality of talents that abound in Nigeria and his wealth of experience as a former player.