First, I’d like to congratulate you on your reappointment as the Head Coach of our darling but fumbling Super Eagles. Many of us on the inside knew that your second coming would be tougher than the first, judging by how you managed (or mismanaged) your success the last time.
I’m tempted to reserve most of the thanks to your godfather in Aso Rock who fought real hard behind the scenes to have you reinstated despite oppositions from your known foes and perceived friends. But I’d rather join you in giving all the thanks to God Almighty.
I trust you to fulfill all righteousness by sending a bottle of choice wine to your godfather.
Let me be clear upfront, I was not your biggest fan when you were a player for reasons that are really not a mystery. Over the years however, you have earned my adoration and respect by your professionalism and exploits in African football.
I know you are not Jesus Christ and your second coming is not just going to wipe away all our frustrations and bring us football made in heaven. That being said, we won’t condone mediocrity.
I do feel proud about how beautiful African football has become and how great it is to see smaller countries like Cape Verde challenge football powerhouses on the pitch. Still I expect that when Super Eagles face Congo at home, the Red Devils should be beaten black and blue.
I read somewhere online that you lamented that you don’t have a team on ground to work with. While it is obvious that many members of your AFCON-winning side have not gone on to become established names (a little Sunday Mba cough here), the statement is also an indictment on your esteemed self.
Remember, you are your own predecessor; you are taking over from yourself! So how come your former self allowed such degeneration. I smell a slight I-don’t-care attitude while your contract hiatus lasted.
One of the key issues that got you in the bad books of a lot of people is your handling of your relationship with your bosses at the Glass House. I admit that you mismanaged that.
But I understand why you did what you did. I mean you are the ‘Big Boss’ here.
With a lot of those egg-heads knowing next to nothing about playing or coaching football at the top level, it must have been quite frustrating for someone like you. Let’s not forget your unpaid salaries as well. Every father with kids to educate and a family to cater for would have acted the way you did. Some would have even outshone you there.
Yet I’d advise you learn a more subtle and effective negotiation technique other than washing the dirty underwear of your employers in public. Obviously they know how to play dirty better.
As Nigerians, we want instant success. It’s in our DNA, so don’t blame us. If you give us the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, we’ll gladly take it and still complain a bit that your team could only manage a slim 1-0 final victory over Brazil.
But let us not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
However, qualifying for that Mundial is a great step in the right direction. So win your games. If possible, win them all. Whether friendly or qualifying matches. Mold for us a tireless winning machine and you may see yourself lasting longer than that ‘insulting’ contract you signed may have stated.
Nigerians are very patient people. At least, we used to be. But recent actions have shown that our cup of patience is running dry and what we want now is change.
Change from the lackadaisical ways things are done.
Change from shutting the doors on genuine Nigerian talents.
Change from uncensored power struggle between the head and his assistants.
Change from building the national team on a player who spends more time at his club on the bench than the actual football pitch.
Your work in getting the best out of Omeruo and Oboabona must be lauded but Nigerians want more.
While I quite like the grit and workload that the likes of Efe Ambrose and John Ogu offers your team, the same cannot be said of their quality. Lest you miss something there: this is the Super Eagles and only the best should wear the green and white.
You like your team to play possession football often criticized has being without purpose and direction. We desire more.
Why? Don’t blame us. We’ve seen a Nigerian team play close to perfection and we want something similar to that. Fortunately, you were a part of that team – albeit at the twilight of your career – that so beautifully combine swagger with sublime football that wowed the world at the 1994 World Cup and rise proudly to 5th in the FIFA rankings, the best from any African team before and since.
We should by now be past the days when players display the man-know-man card to play for the Super Eagles. Nigerians don’t care whether you are Okocha’s cousin or the best friend of the youngest son of Segun Odegbami’s brother-in-law, if you have not gotten it in you, you are not getting in the team.
If you’ve got the quality to help Carpi FC surprisingly make it to the Serie A or gain Premier League promotion with Watford, then you deserve a look in.
Yet, I’d prefer a Kano Pillar’s star in the Super Eagles to a super star in the second division in Malta who is believed to be a ‘foreign based professional’.
But then it would be wrong of anyone – and that include my humble self – to hand you a list of players to call to the National Team. That is your job and that of the techies in the Glass House. Mine is to rate you by your team’s performances and results.
Time will tell whether you are the right man for the job. Sincerely, though, I can only pray that you succeed because when you do, it means your Eagles are getting closer to the team we believed they can be.
So please, work as hard as you have never done. Shed a pound of your pride and make decisions with the good of the team in mind.
Get better; go for refresher courses and training. Building teams today is more than just setting up a 4-4-2 formation.
You have the onerous task of extracting the best out of 18 individuals to make 300 million Nigerians home and in diaspora happy. I don’t envy you but I’m sure the likes of Daniel Amokachi, Christian Chukwu and Clemence Westerhof believe they can do a better job.
Prove them wrong.