In the dynamic world of football, decisions made by the powers that be often raise eyebrows and elicit passionate responses from fans.
Recent events surrounding the Nigeria Football Federation and their contemplation of coaching changes for the Super Eagles have once again ignited debate and perplexity among Nigerians.
The NFF’s ultimatum to the current Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro, demanding he accept a substantial pay cut or step down, has made headlines in the local media.
Peseiro, who currently pockets a monthly salary of $70,000, is facing the prospect of a significant reduction if he intends to continue at the helm of the national team.
It is well within the NFF’s prerogative to negotiate contracts publicly if they so desire.
However, where they veer off course is in the list of potential successors they have put forth. Two names stand out: Salisu Yusuf and Austin Eguavoen.
Eguavoen’s previous stint as interim coach left a sour taste in the mouths of Nigerians, particularly his management during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and Nigeria’s failure to secure a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
His track record does not instill confidence in his ability to lead the Super Eagles to the desired standards.
Salisu Yusuf’s story is even more complicated.
Although he initially embarked on a promising career path, working as an assistant coach to Samson Siasia and Stephen Keshi, his reputation took a severe hit in 2018.
A bribery scandal involving an undercover reporter left him suspended for a year and fined $5,000 by the NFF.
Yet, incredibly, the NFF reinstated Yusuf after his suspension, both as an assistant to then-national team coach Gernot Rohr and as the head coach of the national B team (CHAN Eagles).
This decision flew in the face of common sense and raised questions about the NFF’s judgment.
Further doubts about Yusuf’s competency emerged when he failed to guide the CHAN Eagles to qualification for Algeria 2023.
His mismanagement was again evident earlier this year when he oversaw the Olympic Eagles’ shoddy preparations, leading to their failure against Guinea in the final qualifying round for the 2023 Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Morocco.
The NFF’s current consideration of Yusuf as a potential successor to Peseiro – interim or not – has left many scratching their heads. A coach with a history marred by corruption and a string of failures should not even be in contention for the Super Eagles’ top job.
If the reports are true, this is an urgent call for the NFF to rethink their choices and find a candidate that does not insult the sensibilities of the majority of Super Eagles supporters.
Football, after all, thrives on its ability to surprise, but this decision might be a surprise too far.