Former Nigeria international striker Jonathan Akpoborie has weighed in on the debate on who should be the next coach of the national team, the “Super Eagles”.
The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has reportedly whittled down candidates to a shortlist comprising Nigerian Salisu Yusuf, Belgian Tom Saintfiet and Frenchman Paul Le Guen, with interviews scheduled for tomorrow.
But if Akpoborie had his way, Yusuf should not have bothered to apply. During an interview with a Lagos-based TV station, the striker who played for a host of German clubs including Hansa Rostock, Stuttgart, Wolfsburg and others in the 1990s and early 2000s, said that from his playing days through to the current set-up, Nigerian players had little or no respect for local coaches.
Akpoborie claimed that in the days when he returned from Germany for national duty, the local coaches used to “lower themselves so much” in front of the foreign-based players and that it was difficult for them to be respected.
He favoured a coach like Paul Le Guen, who has coached teams like Lyon in the Champions League and, in the opinion of Akpoborie, would have the respect of the players and be able to “motivate” them.
Nigeria has been drawn in a tough World Cup 2018 qualifying group alongside Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia, with only the group winners going to the tournament proper in Russia. Akpoborie argued that this “Group of Death” meant that the NFF could not afford to gamble with a coach that has not been tried and tested at top level.