Race for Super Eagles’ job: Meet the last men standing

The long wait for who replaces Coach Sunday Oliseh as handler of Nigeria’s national team is at a crucial bend following the short-listing of three candidates for the plum job.

The trio of Tom Sainfiet, Salisu Yusuf and Frenchman Paul Le Guen are they only ones left in the race that began with over 20 coaches from across the world.

The committee saddled with hiring a new coach for the national team will meet on Monday, July 18 to interview the shortlisted candidates and immediately name the next Super Eagles’ head coach.

While media reports suggest that Frenchman Le Guen is the firm favourite, PREMIUM TIMES in no particular order takes a look at the credentials of the three men seeking the most important football job in the world’s most populous black nation.

Salisu Yusuf

Salisu-Yusuf-The former Nigeria Youth international is the only indigenous coach in the race. Yusuf, who played for the Flying Eagles during his youthful days has enjoyed most of his successes as a coach with domestic teams in the Nigeria League.

Yusuf has coached so many top clubs in Nigeria namely Enyimba, Kano Pillars, El Kanemi Warriors, to mention but a few. He has also had a stint as second assistant coach of the Super Eagles during Samson Siasia’s 11 months tenure as coach, at a time Dutch coach Simon Kalika was the first assistant coach of the team.

Yusuf also served as assistant to Stephen Keshi and then lately to Sunday Oliseh, before he was elevated to be caretaker coach for two friendlies that the Eagles won against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe at the end of May.

With the NFF overly tilted towards getting a foreign coach, Yusuf may again be offered an assistant coaching role even though the 54-year old says he has overgrown that role and now wants to be fully in charge.

Tom Sainfiet

Tom Saintfiet, coach of Malawi during the 2013 Cosafa Cup quarterfinal football match between Zimbabwe and Malawi at the Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia on 13 July 2013. ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Tom Saintfiet

With a coaching career spanning three decades, Saintfiet has coached in several countries like Belgium, Qatar, Germany, Faroe Islands, Finland, Jordan, Tanzania and the Netherlands.

He has also worked in Africa, becoming the Head Coach of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and lately Togo.

Before going to Namibia, Saintfiet was manager of Finnish Premier League club RoPS Rovaniemi. In 2002, Tom Saintfiet coached Faroese team B71 and finished second in the Faroe Islands First Division.

He then went on to become coach at Al-Ittihad Sports Club of Qatar (now called Al-Gharafa Sports Club).

In 2004 he coached the Qatar U17 team to third place in the AFC Asian Championships and qualified for the U17 FIFA World Championships.

Saintfiet before now was close to working in Nigeria having been hired as the Technical Director by the NFF but the appointment of the Belgian was overturned by the then Minister of Sports Bolaji Abdulahi.

Paul Le Guen

Paul Le Guen
Paul Le Guen

Le Guen, 52, is widely reported as the anointed candidate for the Super Eagles job.

He played for Brest, Nantes and Paris Saint Germain and won 17 caps for France, before coaching Rennes, Lyon, PSG (in France) and Glasgow Rangers (in Scotland).

Le Guen had a successful managerial career in France, most notably leading Olympique Lyonnais to three consecutive Ligue 1 titles. He has also managed Stade Rennais, Paris Saint-Germain, Glasgow Rangers and Cameroon’s national team.

He qualified the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals and also coached Oman.

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