NFF Blurred Succession

NFF Blurred Succession And Eagles’ 77 Years Journey

NFF Blurred Succession And Eagles’ 77 Years Journey, by  Nike Ayankunle, OpenLife Reporter

Owing to the time and season, especially as the baton of leadership is about to change hands in the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, the country’s football regulatory body, it has become imperative, once again, to reflect on Super Eagles trajectory in the round leather game since 1945 when the Nigeria Super Eagles was founded.
Going by the fuzzy trend of the NFF election, no one knows who the next president would be when the elections into the Executive Committee takes place soon.
Somehow, names, most of them top guns in the current board, integral members of what is generally considered a ‘failed’ tenure have featured prominently in the contest.
In terms of results – the qualification of national teams for international competitions, and international trophies won (yardsticks that were used in the past to determine the fate of boards) – the scorecard of the outgoing board is not the best advertisement for the incumbent leadership, more so, as they operated as a triumvirate for most of the 8 years tenure of the board. Things seem to have fallen apart between them now and the centre no longer holds. Each person has retired to their narrow cocoons, fighting for survival by distancing themselves from the Amaju-scorecard.
However, outside Amaju Pinnick as a contestant in the race, what is palpable is blurry especially as there have been strident calls for amendments to the statutes that would be used to conduct the elections.
The amendments can only be effected and ratified by the current General Assembly of the Federation. They are constituted mostly by incumbent Chairmen of State Associations that disproportionately and unjustifiably dominate the Assembly. The chances of their amending anything that would see them lose their present firm grip on the Federation and diminish their chances of producing the next president are slim.
So, amending the statutes will be the first huge hurdle to cross. The Ministry does not have the power and numbers in the present General Assembly to drive that change before the elections.
That will cut down on corrupt practices and corrupting influences outside the glare of the superintending Ministry, and cut off the umbilical cord of manipulation. At least, that would be a good starting point for the coming rofo rofo fight for the Presidency of the NFF.
Moreso, football spirit is an individual skills that form a Team with Objective of achieving a common goal. In a team work, there is cohesiveness, understanding, determination and total aggressiveness to win the ball and close the marking spaces.
Most recently, Nigeria football team spirit is very much unlike what we saw in other football nations. Nigeria team spirit in the past was home -grown. “It’s football made in Nigeria”. It has been exported to other African countries and rest of the world. it’s the pride of the nation. The team spirit which unite the nation even during political unrest. It has given so much joy to the most populous black nation in the world.
Subsequent the Kodak under 16 world cup in China, Nigeria golden Eaglets paraded a team of talented youths like Nduka Ugbade, Fatai Atere, Dimeji Lawal, Mobi Oparaku, Christopher Ohenhen, Phillip Ozodu etc that made the nation proud. Nigeria won Gold at the maiden event.That was the commencement of New Era in Nigeria football.
Canada 87″ was another landmark event where Nigeria youths surprised the whole world in Montreal. Nigeria managed with Silver behind Soviet union.
Macro 88″ was a beautiful game. Green Eagles as it was called then, played Cameroon at the final of that year AFCON. The Cameroonian team had the great “Roger Miller” and Emmanuel Kunde. Roger Miller scored the first goal and equalized goal came from Henry Nwosu’s shot.Nigeria last goal was disqualified.
A German Coach Manfred Horner was in Charge,assisted by Paul Hamilton- a Nigerian club league Coach. The Nigerian Team spirit was second to none; it was a “do or die” game between the rival team.
The Nigerian Squad were Henry Nwosu, Andrew Uwe, Sunday, Eboigbe, Bright Omakaro, Peter Rufai, Uche Okafor, Wole Odegbami, Rashidi Yekinni, Ademola Adesina, Humprey Edobor, Wildfred Avbonibavarea, Sam Okparaji, Thompson Oliha etc. These Nigeria Team spirit that won Silver after Henry Nwosu’s goal was disallowed. We lost gallantly to Cameroon. These footballers were all drawn from Nigerian league Clubs like Abiola babes, ACB, Shooting Stars, New Nigeria Bank of Benin, Rangers International of Enugu, Bendel Insurance etc.
The Saudi 89″ was another great event that will continue to linger on in our memories. It’s was Indeed a great one . It was a continuation of the rivalry between the Soviet Union and Nigeria in the age grade soccer.The same Squard that beat Nigeria in the Under 16 stage now clashed again in under 20 category.This is Under 20 world cup tagged Saudi 89″. It was a super game with lot of surprises. Nigeria shocked the whole world coming back from 4 goals down against Soviet union to clinch the final ticket against Suadi Arabia being the host country. We paraded the likes of Nduka Ugbade, Mutiu Adepoju a.k.a the headmaster. Christopher Ohenhen, Dimeji Lawal etc.
Everybody commended the Nigerian Team spirit. It was Indomitable, doggedness and Unbeatable !!!
Although, Flying Eagles finished second with a Silver together with a golden records in the
Guinness book of Soccer.
Subsequently, Paul Hamilton was sacked and Clemence Westernhoff- a Dutch Technical adviser was employed. He was given a task to develop our football.He suggested a developmental plan of 5yrs.
From Algiers 90 performances, Westernhoff knew, he was going to win AFCON 1990, Nigeria played in the final with Algeria being the host nation and we finished as the first runners-up.
Nigeria proceeded to Senegal 92 where Nigeria finished as the third place winner. All these historical performances metamorphosed to winning the AFCON in Tunisia 94″ and even qualified for the world cup for the first time as the African Champion. ” a mission accomplished ” Nigeria proceeded to the world cup with so much determination and Team spirit, Unbeatable and indomitable.
Actually, Clemence Westernhoff mission was not to qualify Nigeria for the world cup but to win the world cup!!! It was not trial by error. We boys allow you to play your balls without rough tackles by displaying their skills. It’s was an entertainment soccer. Austin Okocha is known for his dribbling flair. “a master dribbler”
We proceeded to USA 94 ” as the African Champion. We were drawn with Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece. The Argentina Captain-Diego Maradona testified to the Nigeria team spirit, difficult to penetrate despite his doggedness; without being under the influence of drug, which he eventually tested positive before the clash between Nigeria and Argentina. The Bulgarian team that Nigeria beat in the first round eventually played in the semi final. Nigeria lost narrowly to Italy due a free- kick from Roberto Bergio. This was a Mission almost accomplished by Nigeria and Westernhoff. Nigeria FIFA ranking climbed to No 4 in the world behind Brazil, Italy and Spain.
Nigeria returned to Atlanta 96″ on the same USA soil for vegearnce mission. The dream team Conquered the world best with same team spirit coming from the likes of Austin Okocha, Daniel Amochachi, Kanu Nwankwo, Tijani Babangida, Emmanuel Amunike, Mobi Oparaku, Wilson Oruma, Celestine Babayaro, Dosu Joseph etc lifted the Olympic goal with much gusto. The Brazilian team consisting of Romario, Ronaldo, Bebeto was humbled by the dream team. A German Coach employed by Westernhoff-Bonfere Joe was in charge.
By and large, the likes of Austin Okocha, Daniel Amochachi, Taribo West, Emmanuel Amunike ,Uche Okafor, Uche Uchechukwu, Thompson Olhia, Emeka Emenalo started from our local league.
While Rashidi Yekinni,Samson Siasia, Stephen Keshi, Mutiu Adepoju, Peter Rufai, Ike Shoromu, Dosu Joseph, Obafemi Martins etc were equally drawn from the local clubs. The like of Babayaro, Garba Lawal,Tijani Babangida were from the northern clubs.
Beating the Nigerian Team spirit in the field of play was a “hard Nut to crack” they are Indomitable!!! They have the all the wherewithal of the Eagle Birds. They fly with both wings. They have the Eagle eyes fixed on the ball. They were very tactical in approach to the game. How do you penetrate the defensive line-up without a tactical onslaught from Austin Eguavon, Uche Uchechukwu and Celestine Babayaro. The midfield was the a powerhouse of the team; with Ben Iroha, Stephen Keshi, Austin Okocha, Daniel Amochachi, Victor Ipeba, Chidi Nwanu, Emeka Emenalo, Rueben Agboola etc.
Nigerian Forward was an attacking force with the great Rashidi Yekinni, Finidi Gorge, Emmanuel Amunike, Garba Lawal and Kanu Nwankwo,Tijani Babangida at the real flying on the wings.
Presently, the only player that has Nigeria team spirit is Victor Oshimen,Ahmed Musa, Simon and few others. What we saw in our football now is individual skills that lacks cohesiveness, determination and understanding of a team.
We need home grown professionals and not just British Nigerians that does not have the Nigerian Team Spirit. Naturally, they don’t pocess the never say die spirit of an average Nigerian player.
However, the problem of the bottle is at the neck of the bottle. Nigeria needed a Football Federation that can Structure our football to meet the world standard.
The great performances of our age grade soccer and the senior level was under the watch of late group Captain Antony Ikazobor, Col.Emeka Omeruwa and Alex Akinyele of blessed memory. They all wrote their names in gold in the soccer hall of Fame.
Imagine a football federation that disengaged a foreign coach a month to the AFCON!!! Made Austin Eguavon an interim manager and later converted to a Technical adviser despite his poor performance at the AFCON championship in Cameroon. You reward for good performance and punish for failure; that is the professional hazard of a Coach.
It’s too late to show Austin Eguavon and his team red card but better late than stay.
Nigeria needed a proactive and vibrant NFF that would take the right decision at the right time. Genard Rohr should have been left to complete his task. His mission statement was to qualify Nigeria for quarter final, atleast, that was commendable for a country that has not made it beyond round of Sixteen.
What was Austin Eguavon’s mission statement?? To keep the team captain- Ahmed Musa on the bench till the blast of final whistle before substitution.
Finally, football is all about team work with the highest level of team spirit and not individual skills.
NFF should make use of the home grown talents endowed in the country. We should go back to the drawing board and establish a structure where our National team will comprise about 70 percent home base and 30 percent foreign base players as it were in the past. This perhaps, will enhance cohessiveness, understanding, team work and the much needed team spirit……..not what we saw in the world cup qualifying matches against the weak Ghanaian team.
On a good day, an average Nigerian football team is a team to beat if given the necessary preparation and motivations. Nigerian soccer is entertainment football devoid of unnecessary tackles and aggression.
It would however be noted that Nigeria first appearance in an international game was on October 8, 1949 where they silenced Sierra Leone in Freetown with two un replied goals through Teslim Balogun’s strike and an own goal from Ashman.

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