‘Appointment of new coach good for Eagles’

By 10:14 Thu, 16 Jul 2015 Comments

Behold, the new coaches of the Super Eagles… Jean

Francois Losciuto (left), Salisu Yusuf (assistant

coaches); Head Coach, Sunday Oliseh and Goalkeepers’

Trainer, Alloy Agu, at the presentation of Oliseh as the

Nigeria’s new head coach in Abuja….yesterday.


The first graduate to play for the national team formerly

known as the Green Eagles, Dr. John Oganwu, is of the

view that the change of guard in the Super Eagles’

coaching crew from Stephen Okechukwu Keshi to Sunday

Ogorchukwu Oliseh is one of the best things to happen to

the country’s football in many years.

Keshi, a former captain of the Super Eagles, was relieved

of his job earlier this month by the Nigeria Football

Federation (NFF). Keshi hails from Illa, Oshimili North

Local Government area of Delta State. He is replaced by a

fellow Deltan, Oliseh, who hails from Abavo in Ika South

area of the state.

As Oliseh was being unveiled in Abuja yesterday, some

skeptics, including former international, Emeka Ezeugo,

were crying blue murder and pointing accusing fingers at

the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, saying he used ‘ethnic

sentiment’ in the employment of a coach for the senior

national team. But Oganwu, a native of Illa (home of

Stephen Keshi), sees nothing wrong in the choice of Oliseh

as replacement for Keshi.

“It is sad that some Nigerians still put sentiment in

everything they do, and this is not good for our sports,”

Oganwu told The Guardian in a telephone chat yesterday.

“The NFF President (Pinnick) is an Itsekiri man, while

Keshi and Oliseh are from the Igbo speaking area.

In my playing days in the Green Eagles, Bendel State had

seven regular players featuring in the national team, and

we did so well. There is nothing wrong in the choice of

Oliseh because I see him as an academician, who is

coming to inject a new pattern of coaching into the

system. I want Nigerians to understand that the gospel of

quota system does not carry any weight in sports,”

Oganwu started.

Oliseh (born 14 September 1974) captained the Super

Eagles at the 2000 edition of the African Nations Cup,

which was co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria. The Eagles

lost on penalty to the Lions of Cameroun in Lagos.

A physical, technical defensive midfielder, Oliseh played

54 international matches and scored two goals for

Nigeria. He was part of the all-conquering Dream Team

that won the Olympic gold medal at Atlanta ‘96.

He was also a member of the Super Eagles’ squad to USA

‘94 and France ’98 World Cups. He is mostly remembered

for scoring the winning goal in the group stage match

against Spain at France ’98, as Nigeria prevailed 3–2.

A throw-in deep in the Spanish half was headed clear by a

defender, but a lurking Oliseh ran and fired an explosive

shot from 25 yards that took Spanish goalkeeper, Andoni

Zubizarreta, completely by surprise.

He went on to captain the Super Eagles to a bronze medal

finish at the Mali 2002 African Nations, but Oliseh was

omitted from Korea/Japan World Cup squad later that

year for disciplinary reasons, after leading what the late

Sports Minister, Ishaya Mark Aku, perceived as rebellion

against government, over his demand for higher wages

for the players.

Oliseh retired from international football in June 2002

after missing out on World Cup selection.

In March 2004, Oliseh was sacked by Borussia Dortmund

after punching teammate Vahid Hashemian while on loan

at VfL Bochum.

He finally quit professional football in

January 2006 at the age of 31 after playing a half season

for Belgian top club, K.R.C. Genk.

Thirteen years after, Oliseh is back in the saddle, this

time, as coach of the Super Eagles. His message at his

unveiling in Abuja yesterday was: “I come to serve my

country, not to wage a war.”



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