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A few days ago, the governing body of football in Nigeria, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), confirmed the alumni duo
internationals, Austin Eguavoen and Emmanuel Amuneke as the substantial technical chiefs of the national team, Super Eagles. This follows the national team’s unsuccessful exit under Eguavoen as a caretaker in the recently concluded 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with Cameroon 2021, and the unsuccessful attempt to engage the Portuguese tactician, Jose Peseiro. While Eguavoen remains the technical adviser and head of the coaching staff, Amuneke was drafted in as coach.
At the 2021 Cameroon Championship, Eguavoen and the Super Eagles, after flying off the blocks in impressive fashion, ended up flattering to deceive. They won all their group matches to raise the expectations of not only Nigerians but also their fans across the globe. But the Eagles stumbled in the first-ever knockout stage and game against their Tunisian counterparts.
Therefore, we believe that the combination of Eguavoen and Amuneke could not have come at a better time, especially as the final qualifying matches for the Qatar 2022 World Cup loom. horizon. Indeed, the Super Eagles squad, as presently constituted, boasts of young and enterprising talents who have the potential to become world beaters, if only technically and tactically sound minds could work to weave their talents into a formidable cohesive unit on the playing field.
We are happy that the new gaffers have played the game at the highest level and have proven themselves as technical managers with relative success. Both played professional club football with renowned teams in Europe, played for the national team and won the Nations Cup in 1994, with Amuneke also winning the Olympic football gold medal in 1996.
As coaches, the two have related experience to draw on. While Eguavoen has been in the saddle of the Super Eagles before and holds the record as the only manager to have seen the team achieve a perfect record in group matches like AFCON in more than one edition, the recent disappointment of Cameroon 2021 should be practical. Amuneke, for his part, brought world youth football glory to the country as an assistant and long-distance coach for the Golden Eaglets in 2013 and 2015. He also broke new ground, leading Tanzania’s Taifa Stars to their second Cup outing. of African Nations. in 2019, 39 years after their first release in 1980.
Therefore, we believe it is now time for both coaches to bring their experiences to the national team and lead it to greater height and glory, starting with the memorable two-legged encounters with neighbors and rivals Ghana next month. Ghana’s Black Stars are the final hurdle between Nigeria and a World Cup appearance and qualification for the biggest footballing event in the world is non-negotiable. It is indeed a litmus test for the Eagles managers and a taste of what their tenure holds for the national team and Nigeria.
We expect Eguavoen and Amuneke to close ranks and work in mutual respect and unity of purpose to ensure that their names are not just written in gold, but serve as milestones. positive for Indigenous coaches in their pursuit of opportunities on the continent and beyond. We believe that these goals are achievable with clearly stated goals, programs and methods, which should have long, medium and short term strategies.
Over the years, it’s common knowledge that the NFF tended to treat native coaches with less respect than their expatriate counterparts. Although we do not encourage confrontation or insubordination, we expect that as professionals, coaches have a clear contract with a stipulated rule of engagement in order to avoid the cataclysmic developments that flooded past arrangements.
As ex-players, Eguavoen and Amuneke must be prepared to enforce discipline in the Super Eagles without being unduly authoritarian in order to have and maintain a peaceful dressing room. In fact, it is the responsibility of the coaches to provide leadership and act as role models for the players, not hesitating to field those who get out of order, regardless of their status in the team.
Hassan Shehata, who won several Nations Cup titles for Egypt, Djamel Belmadi of Algeria, who led Algeria to the title in the penultimate AFCON, our own late Stephen Keshi, who won with the Super Eagles in 2013 and current CAN Champions coach Aliou Cisse, the Teranga Lions of Senegal are a few examples of indigenous coaches who have led their country to glory. Taking a few leaves from their books, in particular, Cissé, who stuck to his beliefs and methods to ultimately succeed with Senegal, wouldn’t be a bad idea. The duo should strive to be shining examples of ideal homegrown coaches with ability.
Besides a healthy working relationship between the two men on and off the pitch, we demand a fair and firm disposition from them in scouting, selecting and lining up players for the national team. The practice of favoritism or double standard must not find a place in the choice of personnel to continue this or that match. Moreover, some Nigerian coaches have recently breached FIFA rules and oppose bribery, match-fixing and other forms of bribery, Eguavoen and Amuneke must at all times maintain moral grounds raised against any matter likely to undermine their integrity.
Both coaches will, at the end of the day, be judged on how well they have taken the national team to the next level and their ability to identify, wean and onboard new players to the Super Eagles. We therefore believe that while scouting for the best legs to represent the country in national teams, national league products should not be overlooked, Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) players should not be outright dismissed as second-class players. but should have ample opportunity to prove themselves among the litany of generally favored foreign counterparts.
Of course, Nigerians look to the coaches to bring positive vibes, especially better technical depth, good spirit and undivided commitment to the team. The Super Eagles are expected to replicate their exhilarating performances of the past and hopefully achieve the form that saw them captivate the world in the 1994 Tunisian AFCON and 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States. United States of America.
With the country looking to be part of the party at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Eguavoen and Amuneke must make a loud and clear statement of intent with the upcoming final qualifier against Ghana’s Black Stars in March.


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