The Nigeria Football Federation will likely name Paul Le Guen as the new coach of the Super Eagles on Monday. However, that will not guarantee the success of the team, given the history of the NFF, the time frame he has to deliver, and the state of team the Frenchman will inherit.
The sooner we accept the limitations of the national team, the better. The Super Eagles is a blighted brand. That is a fact we must face. No matter how much we disagree with and despise FIFA Rankings, the accuracy is not much off. The Eagles are crashing in the rankings because frankly, they are not as good as they were. It shows in the way the team labours to win (simple) matches; it shows in the quality of friendly matches the team play, and it shows in the places our players occupy in their teams.
A Nigerian coach would benefit the team in the long run. This is a controversial argument that will not end as long as the NFF and Nigerian fans keep looking for short-term fixes. There is nothing wrong with hiring a foreign coach. Nothing. But just ask yourself, how long will a foreign coach work before acrimony erupts on his salary? That was the case with the last foreign coach. And the matter is still being discussed on Social Media (Yep. He is “Foreign”: Lives abroad and never stayed more than two weeks in Nigeria…like the others!)
Foreign Coaches are always short term. And this will not be different. The last foreign coach to stay more than a year at the Super Eagles job was Bonfrere Jo, who worked between 1999-2001. Before him, Clemen Westerhof was here from 1989-1994. That’s two coaches that worked for seven years combined in 33 years since Festus Onigbinde was named coach in 1983 as the first Nigerian coach of the modern era. In those 33 years the Eagles have had…33 men in charge at various times. Of the 33 years, NINE Foreign coaches (including Westerhof, Bonfrere and the Social Media critic) were in charge for just 11 years and a bit. That’s an average of just over a year per man.
Nigerian coaches are long term, and deliver better results. The Eagles have been handled by 11 Nigerian coaches over the remaining 22 years, an average of two years. Of the lot, Shuaibu Amodu (Five years cumulative) Stephen Keshi (3 years and a bit cumulative) and Christian Chukwu (two years and a bit) have handled the team the most. Amodu qualified the Eagles for TWO World Cups, Keshi matched Westerhof’s record of Nations Cup win and World Cup 2nd Round.
The conclusion is simple: Nigerian coaches may not be the most sophisticated, but they understand the limitations of the NFF and are more likely to ensure a stable team that will deliver the desired results. A foreign coach just highlights our collective impatience.