Complete Sports' radio show, Sports Planet anchorman, TUNDE KOIKI speaks to Christian Chukwu, the first man to both captain and coach the Super Eagles of Nigeria about the feud between current coach Sunday Oliseh and captain Vincent Enyeama, who he both coached at some point and how the row can be easily resolved.
Sports Planet: Chairman Christian Chukwu, thank you for joining us on Sports Planet.
Christian Chukwu: You’re welcome, Tunde.
S.P: Chairman I’m sure that you have heard everything that went down in the Super Eagles camp on Tuesday, what are your impressions of this situation?
I think that they are embarrassing the country. I think, to me, Oliseh should show more maturity than Vincent because he is the one that will
make use of the defence and achieve his goal and upgrade his coaching career record and so on. If everything you told me is true, I think what should have
happened when Enyeama reported to the camp complaining that Oliseh did not come for the mother’s burial and so on, should have been simple diplomacy. Oh, I’m sorry my goalkeeper, my captain. I was so engaged in so, so and so. I hope everything went on well? We will still talk. You know it is a simple thing to resolve and not to start raising their voices and so on. The captain is important to Oliseh because he has been a long time captain and most of the players may be on his side, and if he starts having problems with his captain then it is likely he will start having problems with the whole team. I think the essence of him
being a manager is to make sure he gathers his players together and ensure that there is peace and that they love one another and that they give him results.
What Oliseh should be after are results. Vincent is equally wrong to be talking to his coach like that. As a captain he should control himself and know that
this is my coach and approach him properly and peacefully, so that our football keeps moving on well. So I don’t see any serious thing that will make
them have conflict if what you have told me is the problem.
S.P: But we also hear that another issue causing friction between both men is Oliseh’s desire to install Ahmed Musa as his new captain, an issue that Enyeama reportedly found insulting because of the way and manner it was being done.
In the first place, if he invites Enyeama and invites Musa, I don’t think it is proper to dethrone Enyeama in the presence of the team and
make Musa the captain. If I am in his situation, what I will do is not to invite Enyeama, then you can make Musa or whoever you want to be captain. But once Enyeama is there, my brother, Enyeama has been the captain and is still the captain, even Musa in his right sense will not accept the captaincy if Enyeama is there because he knows Enyeama has been his captain. So that is what I am saying. Oliseh should take it calmly with them. Oliseh played at the highest level, he knows what I am saying. He has been a captain and anything that they will do to you and you will get angry, don’t do it to another person. I don’t think it is proper. When we were handling the Super Eagles, it is not proper to say when Keshi is there and you tell him, he is no longer captain, this person will be captain. It is never done, except the captain is injured then another person is made captain. Even when Keshi was injured in Tunisia 94’, at the end of the final match, after we won the cup, Keshi went to the podium to collect the cup. That is how it should be. The manager is supposed to make peace among his players so that he can get the best out of them and not pit them against one another or be cruel to them.
S.P: Well Chairman, you are the first man to both captain and coach the Super Eagles, so you understand this situation better than anyone. Just how important is the relationship between a coach and his captain?
Yeah, the relationship between a coach and his captain should be very, very cordial. The coach uses his captain to get to his players, he is a middle man. At times when we are playing they will pay us allowances and everything and my colleagues will be agitating and threatening strike and so on, then the coach will go and call me his captain and say ‘’You know my job is at stake. Go and talk to your colleagues.” So, you can see the relationship and when the captain goes back to tell his colleagues that we are playing this match let us do this and leave this. The colleagues will believe him than the coach. So the relationship between the captain and the coach must be very, very cordial. In fact there are times when team selection for a crucial match may be a little bit difficult. The coach will call the captain and ask about his opinion and everything. So, if the relationship is not cordial, I don’t think they will achieve their aim, both the players and the coach.
S.P: Well, coach Chukwu from everything you have said, it seems that man management or personnel management is probably the most important skill a successful manager must possess ,probably even more than tactical or coaching ability.
That is why he is called a manager. He is there to manage people. In Europe, especially in England, coaches are called managers. There is nothing you are going to teach them technically. What you are after is that my boys are fit, they master your strategy and the tactics and they go and deliver for you. You are not coaching them. You are not telling them how to trap a ball or head a ball. That kind of coaching is at the grassroots level. That is where you see the real coaches, but when it comes to national team, it is management, it is how you manage the players and they give you result. You know all these players are not small boys, so we don’t look at them or treat them like kids. You give them their respect and they give you yours. What is most important is for them to give you results. Even if I catch my player going to club and I find out that this player went to club, he is still better than this man, this is his problem. You make use of his problem and make him give you result and then forget about the bad aspect of it. I repeat, what you want are results.
S.P: Finally Chairman, how does the NFA resolve this feud because this is capable of imploding the team and with World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers coming up, this is the last thing we need.
That is what I have been telling you. What the NFA needs to do is to call two of them together on the same table and resolve it and there will be peace. If they resolve it without calling the two of them together and they speak to them individually, it won’t work. Call the two of them together and say that they have to work together and I think it will be resolved and everybody will know his responsibility. Managers need the players more because the success, his reputation and his career depends on the players. If the players are not performing the manager’s job is at stake. When the manager is sacked, the players are not sacked. Another manager comes and he makes use of the same players. So the manager should find a way of making use of his players, those that will give him results and leave the bad aspect of them. What he wants is result and that is all. And that is what Nigerians are looking for. Nigerians are not ready to listen to why we did not win. They don’t care if the manager is quarreling with the captain. They want results.
S.P: Chairman Christian Chukwu, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you
Chukwu: You are very welcome Tunde