Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh granted an exclusive interview to the Nigeria Football Federation Youtube channel to put the record straight regarding his row with Vincent Enyeama, insisting that he did nothing wrong…
Presented by Completesportsnigeria.com's IZUCHUKWU OKOSI and ADEBOYE AMOSU:
Let's start with this tour of Belgium, how would you describe the result of the first game against DR Congo, from your own perspective, the positives and negatives?
Well, this tour started on a difficult note for us. First we have a player who withdrew from the squad. I'm talking about Victor Moses who withdrew for precautionary reasons. Then we had to bring in a replacement for him.
Then the worst part of the whole thing was the fact we couldn't bring down the six home-based guys down here on time.
These are players we are counting to make an impact in the team. So we had to bring in other players who don't need visas to join us. We also had to bring in Ambrose Efe.
We knew before the game that we were going to have difficulties in central defence due to the absence of Godfrey Oboabona and Keneth Omeruo. So we started the game with a right-back (Leon Balogun) in central defence.
Unfortunately, the two goals we conceded came from this side. But if you look at the game, we did well. If you look at the fact Shehu (Abdullahi) was playing in his first game and as a right-back, I think it was something good.
If you look at the way we played, then you will give kudos to the players. As a matter of fact I was impressed with John Obi Mikel. He carried the team, he was mobile. He did everything I asked him to do and I like that very much.
Mikel took charge of the game and was telling people what to do. I pray he continues like this.
I'm also happy with Elderson Echiejile. His positioning was fantastic. He was very good on the ball. We had more possession but unfortunately we couldn't score on the night. Definitely we have lots of positives to take from the game.
On a negative part, defensively we were not so solid. Like I already told you, the cohesion in defence was not there because of the changes.
I'm just hoping that Oboabona will get a visa tomorrow (Friday) so that he can join us for the Cameroon game.
Okay, let's talk about your goalkeeper, the former first choice goalie, Vincent Enyeama, called it quits from international football few hours before the game, a lot of people are saying it was as a result of the fall-out with you in camp, what happened between you and Vincent?
It's puzzling, to say the least and I'm very disappointed about the character assassination Vincent has portrayed against my personality. If you want to retire, retire. You don't have to drag someone else into it.
I would like to explain the whole thing in detail. We invited 24 players for the two games.
Mikel came in on Sunday and the majority of the players arrived in camp on Monday. I knew because of his mother's burial that Vincent wouldn't be able to come around the same day.
He came to camp on Tuesday afternoon, around 5.20 or 5.30 pm. We were training when he drove in from Lille. We even took some pictures together as I was happy to see him in camp.
But I was not happy with the physical involvements of the players. During the dinner, I spoke about this and I told the players I was not happy with this. At the end of my speech, as I was about to sit down, Vincent stood up and said he wanted to speak and I told him it was not the right time to say anything because we just had a discussion on how to improve and it wasn't the right time to discuss personal issues.
He said no and I refused. I told him 'I don't want you to say anything for now. If you want to discuss any personal issue, you can come to me and we thrash it out'.
He was adamant and wanted to say something. I told him 'with all due respect, I'm the coach of this team and we don't have two coaches. I decide who talks or not. If you refuse to abide by what I say it's better you go out.'
He was still adamant and I told him 'it is either you go out or we leave the room for you.' I later said it is either you go out or they take you out because the situation was stopping the team from having their dinner.
Eventually his teammates got up and took him out. I told him it is either you stop this or you go home. You can go home, I have released you. You just came and you're arguing in camp. He just came in and had not had a training with the team.
So, I went to my room and five of his collegues: Mikel, Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa, Ogenyi Onazi and Elderson Echiejile said coach we have spoken to him.
They said they know him, that sometimes he talks before he thinks. I said okay he can stay. We are trying to build a new team, he can stay around.
Then, the next morning, he came, everthing was settled. He ate breakfast and as we were about to leave for training, I received a message from Nigeria that Vincent said I insulted his late mother.
Vincent insinuated and has already made it public that I insulted his mother. I went ahead and addressed the team. This was really bad. It was a blatant lie.
I find it difficult to take because you can't make false accusations where there are a lot of witnesses around. There were 19 players there and four officials.
There was no reason to talk about his mother because he just came in to camp. There was nothing to talk about him. He was just trying to make people sympathize with him that he was badly treated.
He was the captain of the team. When we played in Tanzania, I called the team administrator, Dayo Enebi, and we arranged for the team to wear black armbands and have a minute silence in honour of Vincent's late mum.
The only reason that was not done was because as Dayo said, the Tanzanians said we should direct our request to CAF and time was too short for us to do that. Dayo is my witness.
How would a man that is sensitive enough to decide to honour Vincent Enyeama's late mother then turn around and insult the same woman?
Let me take take you off that track a little bit before we come back to it, many people have said Vincent did not actually react to the fact you dropped for Ahmed Musa as captain of the side. When you were appointed the coach of the side, did you at any time reach out to him on your plans, because some people are saying you never wanted him in the team. That you have already made up your mind you don't want him as your captain…
Before I was appointed head coach of the Super Eagles, Vincent Enyeama had a big rift with the Nigeria Football Federation over a statement he made about Kaduna as venue for the game against Chad.
I was not the coach then, but I stood for him because I felt he should not be castigated for representing his teammates.
When I was appointed as head coach of the Super Eagles, the first thing I did was to drive down to Lille to watch Vincent train. I spent a whole day watching Vincent train. I took him out for lunch which I paid for. I had a talk with him to intimate him about my plans for the team with him as the captain.
I told him about the tactical things we wanted to change, the changes we wanted to make in the team like you do with your captain.
When I spoke to him there, he made one statement, he was talking about retiring in a year or two after the Nations Cup.
I told him, Vincent, I'm trying to build a team at least for 2018.I don't need a captain who is thinking of retiring from football or quitting football, while we are building a new team.
Nobody does that in football. You wait till your last game and then announce your retirement. I didn't argue with him over that.
Then two weeks ago, Vincent called me to discuss the funeral arrangements for his mother and I told it's sad what has happened to you, but I wouldn't be available for the burial but I spoke with the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, and I told Vincent he would be there.
While we were talking again, he mentioned the issue of retirement again. That was when I decided to pick Ahmed Musa as captain because I felt there is need to have a new captain who is not going to retire soon.
To now take that as something personal is funny. I don't know Vincent personally and it's difficult to have grudges with him.
But he has been in Super Eagles for a long time…
I had already retired from the team before he joined the team. So, it's not as if I have something against him. We cannot continue like this. If we want to retire, retire and don't drag others into it and make trouble
Let's come to the Belgium tour, DR Congo is done and dusted, Cameroon is next…
First, we allow the boys to have a rest and freshen up. We take the positives from the game against DR Congo.
We are just hopeful that Godfrey will get his visa to come around. We need a central defender for the game against Cameroon on Sunday.
We are building, we are getting more players and the cohesion is going on well.
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