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Nigeria vs Egypt: It's Samson Siasia's redemption time

25/03/2016

/ by Imhons Erons

Fate as thrown the former U20 coach back into the frontline of national consciousness and he's been afforded the chance to redeem his name and also stake his claim for the Super Eagles' job permanently.

Tomorrow, Friday 25 March 2016, Samson Siasia will once again lead the Super Eagles against the Pharaohs of Egypt in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying tie in what is certainly a must-win game for the three-time continental champions. 

That the former World Cup goalscorer is a damn good coach has never been in doubt.
His successes with the youth teams (silver medals at both the World Youth Championships and the Olympic Games) bearing testament to his man-management abilities and tactical nous.

With so much goodwill having been built up with his achievements at the youth level, it came has no surprise when the ex-Nantes striker was named the Super Eagles coach in November 2010.
His objective was clear: qualify the Super Eagles for the AFCON in Gabon & Equatorial Guinea 2012.

However, Samson Siasia just could not conjure up enough wins in the qualifying series and his Super Eagles team could not make it to Africa's biggest football fiesta for the first time in 14 years. Almost a year after he got the job, he lost it. 

He had failed and he paid with his job.

Unlike others, he didn't throw tantrums at his employers, never hurled insults at his critics and never blamed witches for his failures.
He simply went back to the basics, doing what he knew how to do best - coaching teams.

He had no issue with his pride or temperament. No assignment belittled him. Be it with Heartland, the Flying Eagles or the Dream Team. Siasia took everything in his stride, giving his all and getting the best out of his players.

In the rain or under the sun. Whether bonuses were paid or not. In days when several months' salaries were held up and preparations were hampered. He got stuck in the deep end, never abandoning his players. Never throwing in the towel. Never washing his employers' dirty panties (and there may have been lots of them) on YouTube or the frontpages of daily newspapers.

And in December 2015, his hardwork paid off. Samson Siasia led the national dream team to a glorious outing at the U23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal. Against huge odds, Nigeria was African champions at that stage, with the twin triumph of having qualifications for the Rio Olympics guaranteed.

The coach was finally vindicated. Little did he know then that his perseverance and patience had paved way for his comeback as national team coach.

His past error forgiven, he's now been given the opportunity to rewrite the history books in his favour.

The nemesis this time is the Pharaohs of Egypt. The objective, same as in his first time out, is to drag the Super Eagles out of a messy situation and make her fly to the AFCON.

Is the task daunting? Certainly, Yes. If it wasn't, Siasia's predecessor wouldn't have chickened out at the crunch hour and abandon ship.

Is it mission impossible? Absolutely not! This Pharaoh is not the same side that ruled African football so dominantly in the last decade.
They are not even among the top five teams in Africa and are also in a transition period.

In contrast, Nigeria's football is on the rise again. Samson Siasia has at his disposal a large pool of Nigerian players hugely talented, highly technical and incredibly hungry to wear the green and white.

Many of them dazzle fans week-in-week-out in the local league, while the rest rub shoulders with some of the world's best players in Europe and the Americas.

If there's ever a time to get one over the North Africans, now is that time. The squad of 44 now pruned to a strong bunch of 23 that coach Siasia invited underlines his desire to make the most of his second chance.

Fate may have had a hand in placing him in command of the Super Eagles' ship at present time but what separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.

For Siasia, the best reaction is to rise above past shortcomings and write his name in gold. So help him God.

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