Amaju Pinnick, Not Le Guen Insulted Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Amaju Pinnick, Not Le Guen Insulted Nigeria

Amaju Pinnick
Posted: Jul 23, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Peter Edema

This is not the best of times for Nigerian football. And those saddled with the responsibility of administering the sport, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), are at a loss on how to get the sport out of its present quagmire.

The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 editions of the Africa Cup of Nations. In fact, the team has taken part in only one of the last three editions of the tournament, and will also not take part in the next edition.

And with the NFF unable to get a substantive coach for the Super Eagles, few months to the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifying tournament, the chances of qualifying for the World Cup are dwindling by the day. Should Eagles fail to qualify for the World Cup, Amaju Pinnick will hold the unenviable record of heading a board that failed to qualify the Super Eagles for any major tournament.

What makes the situation worrisome is that there are neither no players capable of qualifying the team for the Nations Cup, nor a quality coach capable of taking the team to the next level.

The problem has always been poor administration. Those who have managed and are still managing the sport have done little in advancing the fortunes of the sport for decades. There is the belief that anybody can coach the Super Eagles and qualify for any tournament. We’ve always carried on as if qualifying for the Nations Cup or the World Cup is our birth right; that the qualification tickets are waiting for us for the taking.

But events of late have proved us wrong. We’ve failed to learn from our failures to qualify for the 2012, 2015 and 2017 editions of the Africa Cup of Nations. If we’ve learned from these failures, we would have been able to put our acts together in improving our football.

The truth is that Nigerian football is not in comatose, but dead. It’s only its carcass that we are parading, thinking that we have something to hold on to. Paul Le Guen’s refusal to coach Super Eagles when handed the team on a platter of gold is the biggest insult on the country. The Frenchman made us realise the level to which Super Eagles, a supposedly one of the biggest brands, if not the biggest football brand in Africa, has sunk.

His action is a testimony of the decay in the administration of Nigerian football.

That Le Guen, who in the committee of great coaches, would not get a mention, telling us to go to ‘hell’ with our team, is a clarion call for us to examine the administration of football in the country. Le Guen refusal to accept the mandate to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and would rather operate from France and not in Nigeria tells us how low he regarded the job in the first place. The question is, why did the NFF announced a coach, when there was no agreement? Why must appointing a coach be a nightmare? England and Spain announced new coaches for their national teams this week without any hiccup. What is the problem with us?

I am sure NFF officials thought that the Frenchman will jump at the offer with both hands. But he has told us that Super Eagles are just ‘Super Chickens’. No coach, worth its salt, would turn down an offer to coach a great team.

What is haunting the NFF is the saying that “the evil that men do leaves after them.” But today, it leaves with them.

The maltreatment of coaches by the NFF may be the underlining reason why Le Guen decided not to take the job. Owing of salaries for months have become the rule rather than the exception. The administrators don’t respect indigenous coaches. They treat them as nobodies. The circumstances surrounding the exit of coaches such as Clemence Westerhof, Bonfrere Jo, Manfred Hoener, Berti Vogts, Shaibu Amodu, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde and Sunday Oliseh just to mention a few, leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

The way Late Stephen Keshi was hounded out of the Eagles job is enough to instill fear in any foreigner coach contacted by the Glass House. Keshi was owed salaries, so also Samson Siasia, what of Christian Chukwu, Austin Eguavoen, Hoener.

Till today, the NFF has refused to reveal the company that has agreed to bankroll the salary of the foreign coach. All these are enough to scare any foreigner intending to come to Nigeria. If the NFF has the charisma to get a company to bankroll the salary of a foreign coach for the Eagles, what stop it from doing same for the indigenous coaches that are owed months of salaries? A federation that owes its coaching staff for months and wants to hire a foreign coach beats my imagination. Only on Thursday, the NFF averted a major crisis over salary issue and U-20 players’ allowances when an unnamed person settled the bill with N5 million. The U-23 also faced same crisis in USA.

Under this circumstance, the NFF officials should swallow their pride, having insulted Nigeria with the unprofessional way they handled the Le Guen issue and go for a local coach. The Amaju Pinnick-led NFF should look inward. There is Samson Siasia, Emmanuel Amuneke, Salisu Yusuf, Imama Amapakabo. How are we sure that the foreign coach expected to be named next week will be able to do a thorough job and qualify the Super Eagles for the World Cup? I think if the NFF officials insist on hiring a foreign coach, they should sign an undertaken that they will refund all monies expended on the coach should he fail to qualify the team for the World Cup.