WITH Nigeria’s sudden, unexpected exit from the ongoing African Cup of Nation, AFCON 2021, in Cameroun, the near-unanimous clamour for Austin Eguavoen to be appointed the full-time Super Eagles’ Head Coach has dissipated into uncertainty.
People are no longer so sure if indeed he should lead Nigeria to face Ghana in the World Cup Qualifiers billed for March 21 and 29, 2022.
The Eagles under Eguavoen had displayed exciting football skills, unlike the drab affairs we witnessed of them throughout Gernot Rohr’s five years as the Chief Coach. They posted the best overall result during the preliminaries, picking up a maximum of nine points.
The sudden lack of spark in the Second Round defeat to Tunisia owed to the technical superiority of the Carthage Eagles which Eguavoen had no clue how to respond. Eguavoen’s Second Round loss is the Eagles’ poorest performance in the AFCON series.
Is it not too risky to appoint Eguavoen Chief Coach in view of his shallow technical depth? Voices have also been raised about a suspected trait that Eguavoen, like most of our local coaches, betrayed: a pandering to political considerations in fielding players.
One of the strong points always made for the employment of foreign coaches is that they are largely unaffected by our ethnoreligious biases. They are also generally free of the corruption that our local coaches are often accused of.
The only way that a local coach will be able to avoid politics in player selection is for the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, and other higher authorities to also display zero tolerance for such practice. The political pressure comes from “above” most of the time.
Ordinarily, Nigeria as the giant of Africa should show a good example by projecting the quality of our local content and talents at international competitions and exhibitions. Senegal, for instance, has repeatedly done so with their National Coach, Aliou Cisse. But with the deficiencies of our local coaches, we feel it will be too risky to approach the World Cup Qualifier against Ghana with a technically-deficient Coach.
Eguavoen should stay on as Technical Director and upgrade himself. If we must go with an indigenous coach, we should consider drafting Emmanuel Amunike who is more internationally experienced and technically exposed at the coaching level.
But if the job must go to the Portuguese manager, Jose Vitor dos Santos Peseiro, he must undertake to ensure that our home-based players are given adequate opportunities to fight for places in the Super Eagles. Rohr worked against our football interests by shutting his door against our local players.
Everything must be firmly geared towards ensuring that Nigeria qualifies for the Qatar World Cup at Ghana’s expense. That is the irreducible minimum for the next Super Eagles coach.
Vanguard News Nigeria