2022 World Cup Failure: Scapegoating Indigenous Coaches As Nigeria’s Football Woes

April 03 08:58 2022

By Tolulope Oguntimehin

I have listened intently to different arguments and analyses ever since Nigeria failed to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. However, what I can deduced from a certain school of thought is that our failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup falls at the doorstep of our indigenous coaches because they are not good or ripe enough to handle the national teams.

I totally disagree with this line of reasoning because I believe the job of finding a coach for national teams is not something you just do out of the blues but a conscientious effort focused on finding the man that fits the philosophy of how we want football to be played. Football philosophy is key and this is what we have been lacking for ages.

Sadly our national teams’ coaches appointment are being done based on sentiments, quota system and settling the boys.

Take for instance, out of the five countries that will be representing Africa at the World Cup, only one (Morocco) is being handled by a foreign coach while the remaining four are indigenous coaches.

Out of these four coaches only one comes from a league where their standard can measure up to some leagues in Europe, while the remaining nations are being handled by individuals who have played for their national teams at one point in time or another and have also acquired the requisite knowledge to coach national teams or clubs.

I have argued in the past that countries like Brazil, Italy, France and many more don’t look for coaches outside the shores of their countries but the counter argument has always been that they have strong football cultures than us. But we keep forgetting that these coaches we are talking about played in the same leagues with our players before retiring even some of ex internationals have the privilege of playing in different leagues with different football cultures which put them in a better position to do very well. However most times when things don’t go well, we quickly blame the indigenous coaches. Who says our indigenous coaches shouldn’t fail? How do we learn if we don’t fail?

Italy has failed to qualify for the world cup back to back, but does that mean they won’t still look inward for solution to their problems? France failed to qualify for world cup in 1994 under Gérard Houllier but they still looked inward for solution to their problem by finding Aimé Jacquet who won the world cup for them in 1998.

What does this tell us; that there is need to find a roadmap with our national teams in order for us to achieve great heights

Rigobert song only handled the Cameroonian national team as a stopgap coach not given the opportunity on a full-time basis but Samuel Eto came on board as FECAFOOT President and insisted that Rigobert Song must be made the coach even when the Sports Minister was insisting on continuing with the foreign coach, Toni Conceição.

Today Cameroon will be playing at the World Cup despite losing the first leg of the qualifier to Algeria in front of their home fans. They went to Algeria and did the job, beating Algeria by two goals to one in front of Fenecs fans.

I don’t think Rigobert Song is better than some of our ex-internationals but most times we have coaches appointed because we want to provide food for the boys not on whether the coach can deliver.

Eguavoen’s appointment was not the right one because we know his antecedents with the national teams especially with the Super Eagles but Amaju Pinnick led NFF (Nigeria Football Federation) refused to take a decision as at when due which left us with no choice than to accept Eguavoen’s appointment even when we know that he is not the man for the job.

On retrospect, Amaju Pinnick never had the intention of keeping Eguavoen on the job. His appointment of a foreign coach to take over the national team right after the Nations Cup shows he expected the coaching crew to fail but did not expect the kind of support Nigerians gave Eguavoen before, during and after the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations which forced his hand.

with all these being said, as long as we continue to do this with our indigenous coaches, they will never get the recognition they deserved from Nigeria football federation and Nigerians.

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