Thursday, July 1, 2010
NIGERIA EAGLES, TWO YEARS BAN IS NOT ENOUGH?
Icheoku says to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria that the two years suspension or ban of the Nigeria flightless Eagles from any future competition is not enough nor very far-reaching. They should have been totally disbanded and completely outlawed; their ever existence pushed into a faded memory of a distant past and a new national 'Team-Nigeria' reconstituted! Also since they cannot soar like the eagle anymore, may be their name changed to some flightless bird or if they plan to be agile again, to "Nigeria Gazelles?" If the purpose of Mr. President's action is to send a clear message that, the below-par, non-enthused outing of the Eagles in South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup competition is unacceptable to Nigerians and to try to regenerate the humpty-dumpty Eagles, he should have gone the whole nine yards. President Jonathan should have in similar fashion, excised the other cancerous duo - fire the damn incompetent coach Lars Lagerback and also go to the jugular of football maladministration in Nigeria by sacking the entire Nigeria Football Federation. What Nigeria football needs at the present time is a fresh start, a new beginning at the football federation from level one to the last man standing therein. A new set of people, with fresh and different mindset, who are committed to the sports and not those present esta-coders/businessmen who are there for what they can grab. If the health-care sector is manned by doctors, justice by lawyers, records by accountants, Icheoku does not see any reason why sports administration should not be manned by professionals in that field and in the case of Nigeria Football Federation, by erstwhile footballers. Professional who gave the sports its pride of place in Nigeria and the world at large, such as past football greats, which Nigeria is abundantly blessed with. The Chairman Chukwus, Segun Odegbami, Adokie Amasiemeka, JJ Okocha, Siasia, Amokache, etc. These brand of Nigerians have vested interest in the success of football in Nigeria and therefore should be the preferred people to run the football body instead of those fat-stomach arm-chair administrators who have never trapped a passed round leather in their life? Even Jesus Christ was in support of such placing or square pegs in square holes when he ordered, 'to Caesar, Ceasar's!' Also the emerging national 'Team-Nigeria' should be anchored by an indigenous coach with a long term fixed secured contract, with a clear objective spelt out in the contract to coach for say five years irrevocably and deliver result. Such a coach's salary and remuneration should be structured so that the bulk of his money is performance-based, with hefty bonus each time he delivers. For instance, "we shall pay you $10,000 per month but if you win this particular match, you shall receive a $50,000 bonus." No matter whatever he does during his contract, he should not be fired but his remuneration could be reduced accordingly in a pre-agreed manner that will operate as a driving force on him to show cause. The coach must also have a free hand to do things his way to turn things around; and his decision on any player or game-plan is final without any overriding authority to micro-manage or pigeonhole him. So many nations appeared in South Africa 2010 with their ex-internationals managing them such as the legendary 'Hand of God' Diego Maradona who is shepherding Team-Argentina. Like those imported 'white' coaches, the indigenous coach must be handsomely remunerated to encourage him to bring home the laurels (trophies, cups and medals). Such parity or near parity will also reduce the inferiority complex suffered by these unappreciated coaches, faced with their boys some of who are grossing serious foreign exchange playing professionals overseas; as well as other foreign coaches. Such a home-grown coach must have his work cut out for him, which work description must specifically be free of the constant meddling by officials and without any provisions made for the accommodation of the usual federal character politicization of football in Nigeria. If all the eleven players needed to bring soccer-glory to Nigeria come from only Edo State or Zamfara or Ogun or Imo State, so be it; provided they do Nigeria proud. It is imperative that a performance-based, result orientated endeavor like football must not be sacrificed on the alter of quota-system or federal character where every tribe or religion in Nigeria must be represented for political correctness. Icheoku says, Nigeria should learn how to let its best and brightest people represent them or work on behalf of the country whenever the need arises, instead of the frequent imposition of mediocrity wrought by crass madness of a few called zoning, quota-system, federal character and all other manners of very mundane and parochial political considerations. The outside world that watched Nigeria Eagles play at the world cup in South Africa 2010 only saw a green and white decked Nigerian Eagles and not Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo Eagles? They also did not see an Hausa Sani Kaita receive a red card but a Nigerian midfielder who was sent off because of unprofessional reaction? The world did not see a Yakubu Aiyegbeni from the Midwest who refused to push a goal over the goal-line from a 2 yard position in front of an open net; but a Nigerian striker who could not strike a ball? Did they see a Yoruba Obafemi Martins or Igboman Eyeama; no, all they saw were the Nigeria duo, one, a striker who plays professional football in England while the goal-keeper is a wonder-worker at making near-impossible saves. Icheoku asks, Nigeria, when will meritocracy become the watch-word instead of a person's last name or religious affiliation; the same reason the thought of illiterate Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida venturing back to power amidst so many highly educated professionals makes me want to loose my mind! It is about time Nigeria overcame this retrogressive pettiness of arrangements where under-performing athletes are allowed to participate in such a world-class sporting fiesta as the world cup just because their zone needs to be represented or included in the national team? Finally, like the Japanese coach Takeshi Okada, a native of Japan, who has been with the Blue Samurai since 1994, what a reconstituted national Team-Nigeria will need is a steady, patriotic hand on the tiller of football coaching in Nigeria, an indigenous coach who will proudly answer his nation's call to duty and will go an extra mile to ensure that such honor is well defended. Unlike these mercenary foreign coaches, whose primary consideration is the bread and butter such opportunity provides, and could care somewhat if desired result are met, a native coach has so many things at stake and also lacks the luxury of escaping back to another homeland should the polity become super charged as with these expatriate coaches. Coach Lagerback is already in Sweden and never made it back to Nigeria with the disgraced Baba Ibeji Eagles? Admitted it may be initially wobbly, but heck, there is always a first baby-steps, but the home-grown coach should be allowed to falter and reboot himself, and figure out a best way forward; with constant seminars, workshops, symposiums and training the world over; and in some cases allowed to attend some soccer/football academies scattered all over the world. Then he should be charged with a fixed task of making the Eagles fly to soaring heights in Brazil 2014. It can be done Nigerians, yes Nigerians can! Thank you President Jonathan for your decisive action on the matter of the de-winged Eagles as we wait for the firing of incompetent mercenary coach Lars Lagerbach of Sweden.