Can Foreign Coach Change Super Eagles Fortune?

By Augustine Akhilomen

The clamour for the hiring of a foreign coach that will help to change the dwindling fortune of the senior national team may be considered a step in the right direction but then will they add substance to the team ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Nigeria's inability to qualify for one of Africa's biggest football showpiece, the Africa Cup of Nations could have dented the hopes of any local coaches handling the team after Samson Siasia's led team fell 1-0 to Egypt on March.

The defeat made embattled Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick to admit that nothing best will be good for the team than hiring a foreign coach.

Pinnick, who's still facing hard times as the lord of the football house after his fellow Presidential rivals, Chris Giwa, whom he defeated during the last election in Warri, Delta State in 2014 still parade himself as President.

However, that has not stop the former Delta State football administrator from going ahead with the activities at the Glass house as he has set his sights on employing a foreign coach that will help the team ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

I feel saddened that we could not get a favourable result against Egypt. But, we remain proud of this team. From what we have seen in their display, there is hope for Nigerian football. We’re going to get a foreign manager for the team. And we are going to ensure that Nigeria qualify for the World Cup and do exceedingly well, too. We’ll make them utilize all FIFA windows to play quality friendly matches. - Amaju Pinnick

It was the second time the Super Eagles will be missing the Nations Cup after failing to qualify for the last edition hosted by Equatorial Guinea and won by the Elephants of Ivory Coast in 2015.

Sadly, it's also the second time under coach Samson Siasia that Nigeria have failed to qualify for the tournament; in 2012 and 2017 respectively. Although less blame would be accorded to him considering the fact that he had little time to prepare the team, however, for the fact that he's accepted the responsibility of managing the team, he still deserves the blame.

Regardless of Siasia's failure to qualify the team for AFCON, it should also be noted that he won the Africa U-23 Nations Cup in Senegal early this year, thereby qualifying the U-23 team for Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.

Besides, there is no gainsaying that what a foreign coach can do, the home based coaches can't achieve it or do better.

There is no doubt that a foreign coach tends to bring some sort of new drive, motivation, passion and the zeal to any given team. However, how far they go still depends on what the players put on the field during a match.

Some schools of thought are of the opinion that a foreign coach would offer Nigeria the opportunity of playing with great fluidity and attract grade 'A' friendly matches for the senior national team despite the fact that it will cost the NFF a huge amount of money. Others, however, believe that having an indigenous coach would help develop football by way of combing the domestic scene for raw talents that would form the fulcrum of the Super Eagles than the over-dependence on foreign players.

Although there are reports that some foreign coaches such as Paul Le Guen, Harry Redknapp, Claude le Roy and Clemens Westerhoff have indicated interest in accepting the responsibility of managing the senior national team. However, will that put an end to retorgressive fortune of the team in the global stages?

Going down memory lane, it is pertinent to know that since Nigeria's involvement in football, no foreign coach has won the FIFA World Cup for the country except for winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980 and 19 94 under Otto Gloria and Clemens Westerhof.

Again, at the Atlanta Olympic Games, coach Bonfere Jo against all odds, won the gold medal for Nigeria after beating the likes of Brazil and Argentina in the semi final and final respectively.

These are the two biggest achievements won by a foreign coach as far as managing the senior national team and Under 23 team.

Subsequent coaches after these two great Dutch men have been a disaster as the likes of Lars Lagerback, Bora Milutinovic, Thijs Libregts and Berti Vogts struggled to make meaningful impact with the team.

At the same time, coach Stephen Keshi , who’s late also equate that same record when he won became the first indigenous coach to win the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa and reaching the last 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Taking a queue from late Shuaibu Amodu who qualified Nigeria twice for the World Cup in 2002 and 2010 despite the fact that the team was on the verge of missing the mundial, the Edo State-born coach squeezed the Super Eagles through. Note that it was the same thing the likes of Bonfere Jo couldn't achieve.

It should be borne in mind that hiring a foreign coach does not always guarantee winning a trophy. A man once said that he would have preferred Nigeria to employ Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Maurice Koeman to manage the team instead of handing over the job to little or no name coach.