By Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani
It is no longer news that another African coach has won the African Cup of Nations, bringing it to six out of the last nine editions won by African coaches. Coach Aliou Cisse of Senegal joined the illustrious list of African coaches that have won it in the period under review: Hassan Shehata of Egypt, three times, Steven Keshi of Nigeria, Djamel Belmadi of Algeria, all once.
While I don’t know have anything personal against expatriate coaches, I have everything against the perception that our African coaches are not technically sound to manage our national teams. This is absurd. There are good coaches all over the world.
There are brilliant football managers all across mother Africa who should not be disapproved merely because of what can be referred to as our syndrome of not valuing our own. It shouldn’t be so.
Of course, Nigeria’s best coach in history is a Dutchman, Clemens Westerhof, who coached Nigeria from 1989 to 1994: winning silver in Algeria 1990, bronze in Senegal 1992, and winning gold in Tunisia 1994.
Westerhof Qualified Nigeria to her maiden World Cup, played some of the most entertaining football ever in Africa and achieved the highest ranking by an African national team, 5th in April 1994 FIFA rankings.
Thus, there isn’t any way I would despise foreign coaches. It isn’t logical. However, I advocate that they be given fairgrounds to compete with our local coaches, and when appointed, all should be supported sufficiently to succeed.
It is still fresh in my mind how Nigeria Football Federation got itself trapped in a web it is still striving to overcome. They sacked Gernot Rohr at the eleventh hour, which I still think is debatable. Yet, they went ahead to ‘appoint’ a new manager while an interim manager was in place. Who does that before a major tournament and the World Cup playoff around the corner?
I had thought they should have waited for the AFCON to conclude before appointing any manager, especially with an interim manager already appointed. And all those who shared my views have been proven right with the latest development of allowing the interim manager, Austin Eguavoen, to continue until after the World Cup playoff against Ghana.
I think we would have been saved all this rigmarole if the NFF had at least trusted him enough to be the interim manager and not gone ahead to supposedly have an agreement with someone to succeed him regardless of his performances.
Until, the Nigerian football fanatics reigned and rallied around the interim manager after some spectacular displays at the group stage of the AFCON, which seemed to have been adequate to make NFF take this recent decision, despite our shock elimination at the last 16 by Tunisia. May we learn to give our best any job, support, and trust them to deliver. God bless Nigeria.
Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani wrote from Turaki B, Jalingo, Taraba State via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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