Sunday Oliseh was unveiled as the 45th manager of the Super Eagles on Wednesday, taking charge of a team that has lost more than the sobriquet on its name.
The Eagles can no longer be called ‘Super’ by any standard and FIFA recently reflected that downturn in fortune by demoting them 14 places on their ranking table. So that even in Africa, countries like Cape Verde, Senegal and Congo are currently ahead of the three-time African champions who sit on 57th place.
So the major task before Oliseh, his technical team and the Nigeria Football Federation, is to make the team great again.
After his meeting with the NFF Technical Committee on Tuesday evening, Mohammed Sanusi, the NFF General Secretary said, “There is no time to waste. The team has important matches to prosecute in the next few weeks and it is imperative that Oliseh starts work immediately.”
Very true that there is no time to waste but if he wants to succeed on the job, he must integrate these five tips into his plan.
1. He must bring all team members together
Oliseh has an individualistic streak in him but that would not work as the manager of the Eagles. He needs to understand that the collective is greater than the individual, which is why he must first of all ensure that all the units in this project are on the same page.
The NFF, the players, the players’ agents, etc., must see the goal as everybody’s goal. Everyone must buy the vision and be ready to sacrifice to achieve the goal. They must come to the realization that this shared vision is larger than them but that the team can beat it.
2. Let everyone know where he stands and lead with integrity
Every great movement in human history has started by just one person believing in an ideal or a position so strongly and so grew the idea that people were ready to follow him/her to the death.
But that entire leader/follower paradigm would never develop if the leader lacks integrity. So great teams need effective leadership to blossom and develop. Oliseh must not speak from both sides of his mouth. When he says yes, it must be recognised as yes!
3. Understand that players are different
The most successful sports teams have always been a collection of different individual tendencies. Casey Stengel says it eloquently, “It’s easy to get good players.
Getting them to play together, that’s the hard part.” But one sure way that players, especially will buy into the vision of a manger is when they know the things and qualities
he holds as sacrosanct. The best coaches will appreciate individual differences but will ensure that they are knitted tightly together into a strong unit to realise the team goal.
4. He must become a catalyst
The major challenge that any Nigerian coach faces is the challenge of getting into his players’ heads that they are better than what they are presently giving. So Oliseh must become father to some, mentor to some, guardian to some, disciplinarian to some and friend to some. In that way, he will be able to get the very best from his players.
Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho and the retired Sir Alex Ferguson played these roles in their teams’ development to great results.
5. Recognise his own players
There are three ‘Rs’ in football that completely define the major qualities that a footballer must have – Receive, Retain and Release.
If Oliseh is to succeed in the job, he would have to receive every good Nigerian footballer into his camp but he will do well to recognise his ‘own’ players and have the wisdom to release the ones that will not help his agenda.
The list of what the new manager has to do is not exhaustive but if he works on the five suggestions above, he would be able to build a platform for the success of the team and most importantly, his ability to analyse would be put to a greater and better use.
These are Oliseh’s team members:
Technical Director – Shaibu Amodu
Assistant Coach – Jean Francois Losciuto
Assistant Coach – Etim Esin
Assistant Coach – Salisu Yusuf
Goalkeeper Trainer – Ike Shorunmu
Scout – Thomas Sjoberg