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WHY SIASIA IS BEST FOR SUPER EAGLES

By NBF News

After treating the issue of Coach Stephen Keshi last week the spotlight today is on Augustine Eguavoen. Yes, he was the chief coach of the Super Eagles for two years from 2005 - 07. True also that the team won ten of the twelve matches played under him during the period losing only two and won the bronze diadem during the 2006 Nations Cup.

And it is equally true that he was an assistant coach to German-born Berti Vogts between 2007 and February 2008 and under Lars Lagerback, a Swede, during this year's Mundial in South Africa. But the fact that Vogts was brought in to replace Eguavoen in 2007 was an indication that the NFF bosses were not too pleased with his ability and did not believe that the Super Eagles could do better if he continued to handle the team. It is also instructive that after Vogts left in 2008 the NFF did not make Eguavoen to replace him but instead went for Amodu.

Although Keshi and Eguavoen were available last year but it was Siasia the NFF thought was most capable to call upon to lead the Flying Eagles to the FIFA competition in Egypt when less than three months to the tournament the team's coach had to be dropped. The short time notwithstanding the team still reached the second round or quarter-final.

People say Siasia is not ripe to coach the Super Eagles and that he did wonders with the Under-20 and the Under-23 because he used over-aged players against younger ones from Europe and the Americas who were within the FIFA stipulated limits. But his critics forget or conveniently decided to be ignorant that all the other African countries and maybe elsewhere in the world also used some over-aged players in the same championships. Yet their teams did not perform as well as Siasia-led boys. Most of these African teams did not even go beyond the group stage in the tournaments in which the two Nigerian teams reached the final and won silver medals.

One other thing also makes me see Siasia as being better to handle the Super Eagles at this time than Keshi, Eguavoen or any other indigenous or expatriate coach. This is that about ten or more of the players now in the senior national team were in the squads he led to Holland in 2005 and to the Olympic Games in 2008. So, he knows how to handle the lads and therefore in good stead to make them perform better than the Super Eagles did under Amodu and Keshi in 2001-02. And Christian Chukwu between 2002 and 05, Onigbinde during the 2002 Mundial, Eguavoen in the 2005-07 period, Berti Vogts from 2007-08, Amodu between 2008-10 and Lagerback during this year's World Cup.

There is also the fact that Siasia in the last two years or so has been working with a competent expatriate technical adviser named Simon Kalika, a Dutch man from Surinam, who I believe he pays from his pocket. He is the only Nigerian or African gaffer I know who has done this and that to me shows he takes coaching more seriously than other indigenous coaches in this country and in fact in the African continent. As far as I am concerned his combination and partnership with Kalika is better than either Keshi or Eguavoen working with only Nigerian assistants.

Also worthy of being highlighted is the history Siasia made last year when the Flying Eagles crashed out in the second round or the quarter-final in Egypt when he became the first and so far the only coach of a Nigerian junior or senior national team to apologize to the nation for not reaching the final of an international tournament or winning the gold medal. That to me shows he will strive to see that the Super Eagles under him will not disappoint Nigerians again.

It is if the Super Eagles do not perform well during qualifiers for next year's Nations Cup or the championship proper taking place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea that the NFF can consider relieving Siasia of his appointment. And go for a world-class expatriate coach with records of success in handling a club side or national team but not Vogts type of gaffer with no tangible achievement. The foreign technical adviser who will not be involved in 2012 Nations Cup can even be employed late next year to start scouting for players from the domestic leagues and those in clubs abroad whom he would groom for the 2014 Nations Cup and the Mundial. Two or three years are enough for a good and competent coach to prepare a team for both tournaments.

One particular reason for which I support Siasia handling the Super Eagles is for us to see if the senior national team will perform better or worse under him in a Nations Cup competition than they did under Amodu and Keshi in 2002, Onigbinde in 1984, Christian Chukwu in 2004 and Eguavoen in 2006. That way we will be able to know the best achieving among the indigenous coaches who have led the Super Eagles to the continental championship.

If Siasia who they say is asking for a salary of N15million a month for himself and his assistants eventually agrees to take the N7.5million the NFF is said to have offered, it is all well and good. But I will support him if he settles for nothing less than N10million. Because if the NFF which says it has no money to pay N15million a month has to go for an expatriate coach they will give the

foreigner far beyond the amount Siasia is demanding. After all they were said to have paid Lagerback who handled the Super Eagles for only 36 days $200,000 (about N30 million) a month which came to one million dollars (about N150 million) for the 5 - month contract signed with him.

It's good that Guinness Nigeria Plc is reported to have offered to provide N2.2 million every month for the payment of the salary of the Super Eagles coach. Let the Federal Government make the rest available until the Football Federation is able to get other private companies to help. Late assistance by the government to the Football Federation in the eleventh hour employment of Serbian-born Coach Bora Milutinovic in 1998, Dutchman Bonfrere Jo in 2001 and Berti Vogts in 2007 did not yield any good result. Which made it unbelievable that the Federal Government again waited until late last year when the Super Eagles were finding it difficult to qualify for this year's World Cup before making money available for the prosecution of the campaign.

With the first qualifying match for the 2012 African Nations Cup beginning in twelve days time the government should give money to the NFF now to pay the salary of the Super Eagles coach and for the team's campaign and not wait until things are in a dicey situation as it has been doing.

SERIES CONCLUDED
Promoting Yoruba language, history and culture (2)

The presidents and other leaders in some countries across the world when they visit another nation or go to the United Nations or regional organizations speak their local languages which they get someone to translate into English, French or other international languages. So, another way to make Yoruba popular is for the traditional rulers in the South-West when they go for meetings or visit anywhere in the country or abroad to deliver their address in Yoruba language. As the years go by people all over the world will get to be aware of Yoruba language and accord the ethnic group respect.

I am also recommending that annual excursions be instituted by each government in the South-West for primary and secondary school students in one state to visit one or two of the other five states in Yorubaland. Especially for them to visit popular historical and tourist centres during the celebration of important cultural festivals. So that students in one state will be familiar with the history, traditions and ceremonies in the other five states in Yorubaland. In particular, I suggest that the Ooni of Ife should invite the governments in each state in Yorubaland to send traditional rulers and other dignitaries as well as members of cultural organizations and students every year to witness the Olojo festival especially the grand finale.

NOTA BENE
As a result of the request from many a reader columns on divine and religious matters which I stopped writing in September last year will return next week.