Sunday Oliseh, the NFF, and Nigeria’s football fortune, By Jide Alaka

Amaju Pinnick , NFF chairman
Amaju Pinnick , NFF chairman

That we have a problem, call it a challenge, in our polity [including football] is an understatement – we just did not know the extent or the extreme scale of seriousness of the challenge.

Former national team goalkeeper and now football pundit, Peterside Idah, revealed on live television that when the Eagles trained in South Africa before the commencement of the CHAN tournament in Rwanda, Sunday Oliseh pleaded with him to arrange food for the team…

The NFF vice-president, Seyi Akinwunmi, explained on the same show that the ‘food’ the team was asking for was Nigerian food – an occurrence that is commonplace for Nigerian teams on international assignments.

What is the duty of the NFF?
That sounds plausible but as managers of the game, the NFF must know that the team would seek Nigerian food but they still did not prepare for that need. What does that say of the capacity of the NFF board to plan adequately?

Digest that information properly – the national team players did seek a different kind of menu, a situation that the NFF knew would happen…

If this is true, then Amaju Pinnick and the entire board just need to step up to their duties and stop blaming the coach for ‘laundering dirty underwear in the open’. Of course, there will always be excuses [valid only in their own eyes] why what happened had to happen.

But CHAN was not an emergency. We knew when we qualified that we would need money [not cowries] to prosecute the tournament and if the NFF could not raise the money, it behooves of them to make it public knowledge and pull the team out of the competition.
This is in no way justifying the rant by the national team boss, Sunday Oliseh, but I can see the justification – only that he allowed his emotions to grow wild and make a detour from the right path. These people are disgracing us and causing us embarrassment in the comity of nations because they are not doing what they were simply elected to do.

The challenge that faces us at the moment is much more than the fact that the Oliseh-led Super Eagles did not make it out of their group at the 2016 Africa Nations Championship but the fallouts of that failure.
Elon Musk [if you don’t know him – please use Google] said, “Criticism is like exercise. It sucks in the beginning. “But it slowly shapes us into more healthy people and we experience many long-term benefits. While compliments create contentment, criticism creates improvement.”

Oliseh’s Rwanda failure not the crux
That Oliseh failed in Rwanda is not the main issue – but the way he and the NFF has reacted to the criticisms that followed that failure. Having poured opprobrium on his supposed naysayers in two videos released on his website, the former Super Eagles’ midfielder’s utterances did not portray a person who played football for close to 15 years and across five countries and for top clubs under renowned managers.

But Oliseh is just one person and he should grow up but the NFF is supposed to be an experienced group of managers – designing a template and working through to grow the game of football in the country. What we seem [and I could be very wrong] to have on our hands is a band of charlatans, seeking self-glory.

Would any of the board members have said the coach should keep quiet in the face of all these gaps if they had sons playing in that team? Why did this have to happen in the first place?

This board is almost 18 months in the saddle and the same ‘systemic challenges’ that faced former boards are still around and have grown even ‘healthier’ while the halo of suspension or dismissal that constantly hangs over the heads of the coaches of the various national teams whenever they speak out does not bode well for the growth of the game in the country.

Now, the sense of injustice that Oliseh will be feeling will have been exacerbated by Tijani Babangida’s dismissal as his personal assistant. Therefore, on this case of the NFF and Oliseh, the omens do no speak well and a likely and [quick] divorce seems to be on the cards! We hope it does not come to that!

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