By Nnamdi Ezekute:
Nigerian football endured an embarrassing tension-soaked atmosphere within the space of five days preceding the international friendly match between the Super Eagles and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on Sunday, October 11.
The fire-brand imbroglio between incoming Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, and out-going captain Vincent Enyeama reverberated, embarrassingly, while it lasted.
Between the two football icons who served Nigeria meritoriously in different generations, their teeming football-loving compatriots were divided. Every Nigerian on each side of the divide argued at any slightest opportunity over who was to blame between Oliseh and Enyeama, in the face-off which was apparently induced by the change in the captaincy of the Super Eagles.
However, that famous Super Eagles' convincing 3-0 win over favourites, Cameroun, in the October 11 international friendly match and the NFF's shrewd handling of a peace meeting between Oliseh and Enyeama acted in tandem to douse the tension.
The NFF reportedly reprimanded Enyeama, for dissent to his coach while settling their differences. The NFF reaffirmed their total support to Oliseh who has the official mandate to call the shots over coaching matters of the Super Eagles. That was commendable.
The popular management cliché 'that there is just one captain for a ship' shouldn't be regarded disdainfully. Ditto, the critical detail in management practice that seeks to replace a talent that clocked the age of retirement and feeling it at heart, because such a talent is wont to behave like a melting ice-block. Those who vilified Oliseh shrugged off important details like the bull to a red flag, in the Spanish bull-fight. Consequently, the motive for which Oliseh appointed Ahmed Musa as new Super Eagles captain remains sparingly understood.
While frowning upon Enyeama's misdemeanours in the whole face-off, we were informed that the NFF reassured him that his pride of place in the Nigerian football history remains intact, hence a pledge of a commemorative testimonial match for his retirement from the national team. That was quite pleasing to me too.
At 33, Enyeama deserves a peaceful and ceremonious retirement from the national team. Oliseh said he wanted him to be actively involved in driving his new philosophy, in honing the next generation of the Super Eagles. But the goalie was already set in his way, mentally, to refocus and nurture the twilight of this footballing career, now at club level. All the best Enyeama!
That the older Nigerian hero, Oliseh and the younger hero, Enyeama, put their egos aside and mended fences in that peace talk, was equally gratifying.
We were told that both Oliseh and Enyeama spoke cordially during the peace talk, a great relief for those who yearn for more goals from the Super Eagles. Mistakes do happen, but it's what you do after that that matters.
Having made the progress of quenching the messy Enyeama/Oliseh cross-fires, MoreGoals! will attempt to enlighten the passionate Nigerian fans on the concept of football team's human management, with a view of understanding Oliseh and his challenges better, as the Super Eagles helmsman.
The foregoing is my preamble, in a deliberate effort to demystify the concept of human management in football coaching job. It was a skill that Oliseh, as ambitiously as he administered it, scared the pants off Enyeama.
Watch out for the part 2 of this piece, just in a jiffy.
2015 U17 W/Cup: Eaglets Go For More Goals!
The FIFA U17 World Cup, Chile 2015 , kicks off on Saturday, 0ctober 17. Like most Nigerians, I feel quite enthusiastic about the tournament. No tension, for the obvious reason that it's Nigeria's territory.
This is also a tournament in which Nigeria enjoy rave reviews in the global media due to the pedigree established overtime.
Nigerians have the bragging rights going into the 16th edition of the FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile. Nigeria have won it four times; in 1985, 1993, 2007 and 2013. The Golden Eaglets have also won three silvers from the the tournament; in 1989, 2001 and at home when Nigeria hosted the showpiece in 2009.
Emmanuel Amuneke's team are favourites as title holders, a glory the one-time African footballer of the year earned as an assistant coach to Manu Garba two years ago in the UAE. The team should take the pride as motivation and fight to defend the title successfully.
Nigerians want more goals from the Golden Eaglets in this tournament. The four titles won so far were achieved on Asian soil – China'85, Japan '93, Korea '2007 and UAE 2013. More goals! The Golden Eaglets should now also win it outside Asia, on the South American soil of Chile!
Good luck Golden Eaglets. Good luck Nigeria.