As interim coach, the former international led the national team to an early exit at the Nations Cup, but he had shown enough quality to convince many he was ready to occupy that position permanently
Former Enugu Rangers head coach John Obuh believes Augustine Eguavoen is tactically well-equipped to become the substantive handler of the Super Eagles.
Eguavoen was named the national team’s interim coach following the dismissal of German tactician Gernot Rohr in December, barely a month before the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
And due to injuries to key players (Victor Osimhen and Paul Onuachu) and the refusal of clubs like Watford (Emmanuel Dennis) and Al Shabab (Odion Ighalo) to release their stars, the Eagles headed to Cameroon with a squad devoid of four of its leading strikers.
And with the team not at full strength and preparation not at the optimum level, expectations were mellowed ahead of Nigeria’s hunt for a fourth continental title.
Still, Eguavoen got the team playing on the front foot with high intensity, creating loads of chances and entertainment value.
The Eagles outplayed Egypt, Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau to finish as the only team to win all three group stage matches at the Afcon.
But against the odds, a weakened Tunisia outfoxed the three-time continental kings to dump them out of the tournament at the second round, bringing a disappointing end to a promising campaign.
For context, the Super Eagles outclassed a Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt 1-0 on matchday one and could have won by a more significant margin. But, while the Eagles have been knocked out, the Pharaohs have made it to the semifinals of the Afcon.
Eguavoen stepped down from the Super Eagles interim coaching job immediately after the competition, reverting to his role as the Technical Director of the Nigerian Football Federation.
But many, including John Obuh, have not forgotten how well the Sapele-born tactician got the national team playing in Cameroon.
And the 2009 FIFA u-17 World Cup silver medal-winning coach has urged the NFF to appoint Eguavoen as the permanent coach of the Super Eagles, as he would be a perfect fit.
“Eguavoen should be allowed to handle the Eagles since he took the challenge of taking the team to the AFCON within a short time notice and proved he could do the job by winning all the group games,” ex-Akwa United coach Obuh told the Guardian.
“I believe the team’s defeat by Tunisia in the Round of 16 has taught him some lessons, which will be useful during the qualifiers.”
Eguavoen has previously handled the national team in 2005 and 2010, winning the bronze medal at the 2006 Nations Cup. During his playing days, Eguavoen was a member of the Super Eagles squad that became African champions in 1994.