Archive for December, 2014

All change for the National Nigerian Football Team

Monday, December 29th, 2014

It has been announced by a top Nigerian Football Federation official that Frenchman Henry Michel is to be the new Super Eagles coach.  Michel expressed his willingness only last week to coach the African champions if he were to be approached by the Nigerian Football Federation.  The controversial decision to let Stephen Keshi go came just hours after the Super Eagles match against Sudan.  Several well known coaches have been linked to the job, including Germany World Cup winning captain, Lothar Mathaus.  Also linked were coaches Klaus Toppmoller, Roger Lamerre and ex-Netherlands coach Ruud Gullit.  However, it is reported that the job will go to the well-travelled Frenchman according to a Nigerian Football Federation official.  The post is being filled in the interim by Shuaib Amodu and three other coaches awaiting an official appointment.

Henry Michel is a highly respected figure in African football.  During his illustrious career he has coached the national teams of Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Morocco and Cameroon.  He also skippered the French national team that included the legendary combination of Jean Tigana, Alain Giresse, Michele Platini and Luis Fernadez, a team which finished in third place in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

There has been criticism amongst Nigerian fans of the decision to change coaches before in the run up to the team competing to qualify for next year’s AFCON.  With a slim chance of qualifying, the team need to be in the best possible hands to turnaround their hopes of defending the trophy won by them in 2013 in South Africa.

Nevertheless, the interim coach Amodu Shuaibu has made a significant contribution to the development of Nigerian football.  The Edo state born coach has made some remarkable achievements skippering the Super Eagles.  It is under his stewardship that the team qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and took third place in the African Cup of Nations in Angola in the same year.  Shuaibu has managed the Nigerian team on three previous occasions: from 1998 to 1999, 2001 to 2002 and 2008 to 2010.  He has a turbulent relationship with the team’s fans and his employers.

In a recent interview, Stephen Keshi commented that he had not been sacked by the Nigerian team.  He confirmed that his contract with the Nigerian Football Federation came to an end in the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, making it inappropriate to say he was sacked from his post.  Keshi remarked that the team could still qualify for the 2015 African Cup of Nations with hard work from the players and encouragement from the fans.  Nigeria is currently occupying the third position of Group A with 4 points, following the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 7 points and South Africa’s 8.  The Super Eagles are set to play the Congo on the 14th November, and South Africa on 19th November.  In the meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria team were defeated by the First Bank of Nigeria team in a lone goal win in the 28th annual All Financial Institutions Football Competition.  The winning goal was scored by Gafar Lasisi in the 56th minute.

Concerns were reported by the Nigeria Football Federation’s new President, Amaju Pinnick, with regard to Stephen Keshi.  Pinnick hinted that his contract might not be renewed, calling into question the trainer’s competence after the game against Iran.

In the wake of Nigeria’s defeat by Sudan, Keshi pleaded with Nigerian Fans to forgive him and his team.  The Super Eagles failed to record a win in the qualifiers for the African Nations Cup at the fixture in Khartoum and were defeated by just one goal.  The Super Eagles thus have to win their remaining three matches in order to qualify to play in the championship.  Super Eagles striker Emmanuel Emenike blamed the bad condition of the Khartoum football pitch for the team’s shocking loss against Sudan.  Emenike commented that the pitch had been left flooded before the game, ensuring that the Nigerian team had no opportunity to practice on the Sudanese pitch before the match.

With sweeping changes afoot, Super Eagles followers such as Tunde Folawiyo will be keeping a keen eye on what happens next.  Born in Lagos in 1960, Mr Folawiyo is a London School of Economics graduate and Member of the Bar of England and Wales as well as an ardent Super Eagles supporter.  To discover more about this African Business Leadership Award winner, follow Tunde Folawiyo on Twitter.

The Nigerian national football team (known as the “Super Eagles”) represent the county in international association football.  The Super Eagles are controlled by the Nigeria Football Federation.  Nigeria played its first official game in 1949, whilst the country was still a British Colony.  Nigeria competed in the World Cup for the first time in 1994 under the management of Clemens Westerhof, and won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980, 1994 and 2014.  The team’s highest capped player is Joseph Yobo, with Vincent Enyeama a promising runner up.  During 1994, the Nigerian national football team ranked 5th in the FIFA World Rankings, the highest ranking achieved by an African team in the continent’s footballing history.  The Super Eagles’ first manager was John Finch, who managed the team from 1949 to 1954.  The outgoing manager, Stephen Keshi, took over the reins in 2011.  Super Eagles fans like Mr Folawiyo will be watching with baited breath for confirmation of the new manager and whether, despite all the odds, he can lead the team to AFCON success.


Keep updated with our latest posts such as NFF announcing new Nike Sponsorship deal.