Super Eagles’ interim coach Amodu Shuaibu has revealed that he almost turned down the job but had to accept after he was convinced by NFF boss Pinnick Amaju to tinker the team in the remaining two AFCON qualifiers. He spoke with RICHARD JIDEAKA
Was it a difficult task for you accepting to handle Super Eagles last two AFCON qualifying matches as caretaker coach?
First and foremost, my reaction to the news of my coming back to handle the national team was a kind of surprise to me. Surprise in the sense that I have been disconnected from football coaching at the national team level for the past four years and hearing that the NFF wanted me as interim coach was a big surprise.
So, I was the last person I expected to be called for this job. The first thing that came to my mind was to say outright no. The reason why I thought about saying outright no was to make serious efforts to see how we can avert the removal of my colleague, (Stephen Keshi) from this job because he has only two games remaining in the qualifiers.
What is your view on the removal of Keshi from the national team with just two games to go?
My reason for this is that I believe it was not all over for the team. And that if we were patient enough for him to probably finish this job, we could still qualify and at that level, we would have been able to appraise him (Keshi) properly. But it looks like superior reasoning overtook my sentiment. But the decision was taken after I made serious efforts to see if the situation would be salvaged. Unfortunately, it was deeper from what I can see from outside.
Do you see the assignment as a difficult one?
I wanted to have a mental picture of what the job is all about before accepting to handle the remaining two matches of the 2015 Afcon qualifiers. I made my condition very clear to the NFF that if I were to accept the job for the remaining two matches; we must appreciate where we are coming from. And as a professional, I thought I was going to be close to the technical department where I was assigned to man for over a year now though without the necessary instrument of office to perform in the first place anyway.
How are you going to prosecute the two matches?
The NFF President Amaju Pinnick assured me of total support and I know he is a man of honour. So, I let him go out with the announcement. As I speak to you now, I am not going to dwell on controversies. My plan is to meet with my technical team to see how we can fashion out plans that will be suitable to prosecute these two matches.
Will Nigeria qualify for the Nations Cup?
At the end of the day what is important to me, my crew and all Nigerians is to see how we can salvage the situation and get the required results that will see us qualify.
Will you work with Keshi’s template in the area of players’ selection?
We have just met with the NFF technical department and they made our job easy by providing a list of 60 players to select from. I will sit with my technical crew and see those who are in good form for invitation. There is no way we can overhaul the Super Eagles within one month. Keshi’s team is made up of some of the best players the country can boast off so we’ll give them a chance to prove themselves.
Are we likely to see the return of Ike Uche in the team?
To be frank with you, I will give Ike Uche a call this night to commend him for scoring 100 goals in La Liga. He is doing well and if he remains in such good form, he surely will be recalled.
What is your term of contract as the interim coach?
To tell you the truth, I have not discussed the terms of the assignment with the FA. I believe that the NFF chieftains will give us what we deserve. Money is not the issue here but patriotism.