Sunday Oliseh’s imminent appointment as Super Eagles head coach has split opinion right down the middle in Nigeria.
While the supporters of the former Super Eagles captain cite his possession of the most advanced coaching badges as a major advantage, his opponents point to his extremely limited coaching experience as a major disadvantage.
Although Oliseh does not tick all the boxes, completesportnigeria.com’s NURUDEEN OBALOLA here believes even that big negative (inexperience) could be a positive as he gives five reasons why the former Nigeria captain is a good choice to replace Stephen Keshi…
1 Oliseh has a point to prove
Sunday Oliseh is aware that a big stick to beat him with is his lack of experience. He will be out to show up those opposed to his appointment, to make them feel they were wrong to have had any doubts.
Having been given the opportunity despite quite reasonable opposition based on valid concerns, Oliseh will be determined to prove that the Nigeria Football Federation was right to give him that chance.
Oliseh has not done any on-field coaching since his spell with lower league Belgian club RSC Verviers ended in 2009. That’s six whole years of not being in the dugout. And that’s a good reason for Oliseh to be determined to succeed, to show every doubter that his not coaching teams is no recipe for disaster. Determination, aided by innate ability, usually leads to success.
That desire to succeed and the will to win could prove the key ingredients that will spur Oliseh on. With no coaching experience to flaunt, nor trophies to brag about, Oliseh knows his work is cut out, and he will avoid the mistakes that ultimately led to his predecessor’s exit.
Before the Nigeria job, Stephen Keshi had already helped Togo qualify for their first World Cup and taken Mali to the Africa Cup of Nations. Then he won the Nations Cup with Nigeria. There wasn’t much for him to prove anymore and he allowed complacency to take over.
There is little danger of that happening with Oliseh. He has won zilch. He now wants to win plenty.
2 Oliseh is a highly qualified coach
Only a handful of Nigerians are known to have the highest coaching certification available in Europe. Oliseh is one of them.
Along with his former international teammates Emmanuel Amuneke and Mutiu Adepoju, Oliseh holds the UEFA Pro Licence, the most advanced coaching licence in Europe.
For long, Nigerians have cried out for highly qualified indigenous coaches to handle their national teams. Oliseh is one and the training will, hopefully in large measure, compensate for his lack of experience.
Even in Europe, few coaches have the Pro Licence, so Oliseh is an elite coach that should lead Nigerian football to greater heights.
3 Oliseh has an analytical mind
There is a great deal of analysis in modern football and the best coaches are the ones with the most analytical minds.
To beat an opponent, you have to break down that opponent’s tactics and identify their strengths and weaknesses to take full advantage. While working as a television pundit and analysing UEFA Champions League analyst for Complete Sports, Oliseh has often demonstrated the ability to perfectly read a game and project what needs to be done to get results.
Also, as a pundit he has to watch loads of football matches, and that is where the best tips are picked up.
This sets him apart from most Nigerian coaches, because it is common knowledge within sportswriting circles that these coaches hardly watch football games; they rely mostly on information from journalists and agents to determine which players to invite, strange as that may sound.
Statistics are a huge feature of the modern game, and Oliseh has shown that he has the ability to interpret these stats. This ability will come in handy when he starts handling the Super Eagles.
Sadly, game reading is not a strong feature of most Nigerian coaches, as demonstrated by the performances of the country’s teams at the recent Women’s World Cup and the U-20 World Cup.
Oliseh’s coming will hopefully address that glaring shortcoming as his influence rubs off on his colleagues, especially as he has experience as a coaching instructor.
4 Oliseh is exposed, modern, open to new ideas
At present, no Nigerian national team coach is active on social media.
While this might not be a big deal since most of the world’s top coaches are also not on Twitter or other platforms, it is still an advantage for those who are.
Besides, those who are not, like Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Louis Van Gaal, probably have people monitoring everything that is going on for them.
Oliseh is not only active on Twitter, he also has his own website and maintains a brilliant blog where he shares his vast knowledge of the game.
This shows that he is one who moves with the times, is open to new ideas and will embrace any innovations that come along in order to improve himself and his team.
5 Oliseh has been there, done that
Super Eagles players have been known over time to look down upon officials who do not have top-class playing careers.
But Oliseh has had as good a career as any of the players in the present squad, if not better. He played for some of the biggest, most successful clubs in Europe – Ajax, Dortmund, Juventus – and won the Africa Cup of Nations, the Olympics and played in two World Cups.
This new Nigerian coach is not going to be intimidated by any player’s pedigree, even if the player has featured for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United and earns £1 million a day.
Beyond that, Oliseh also played for the Super Eagles for years and should be used to the system.
Not much has changed in terms of the game’s administration since his playing days. So, instead of unpaid bonuses, he could face owed salaries and unfulfilled promises.
He played under different Nigeria Football Association administrations who took incompetence to a new level, so whatever shortcomings the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF might have would be tolerable. Oliseh probably saw worse when he was playing. Coping should not be a problem; he is used to the system.
Besides, the years must have mellowed Oliseh and he is no longer the hot-headed young man who fell out with the authorities and the media during his playing days.