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Sunday Oliseh and NFF President Amaju Pinnick in London

Segun Odegbami: “Oliseh is a fantastic choice”

Legendary Nigeria skipper and winger in the 1970s and 1980s Segun Odegbami has echoed comments made on when he endorsed the imminent appointment of Sunday Oliseh as the coach of Nigeria’s Super Eagles.

Odegbami was speaking to a Lagos TV station this morning and said that Oliseh had the “intellectual capacity” to succeed. He said you only had to listen to Oliseh’s comments and analysis of games to appreciate what he had to offer. Odegbami used Oliseh’s education as a lawyer and a graduate of Lagos State University to support the case for his superior intellect.

Odegbami went on to explore the importance of intellect in the game. The Nigerian game had reached a certain level of “slow but steady development” and couldn’t rise beyond that level because it lacked “certain ingredients”, which Odegbami went on to describe as “intellectual capacity”. The game needed a “fertilisation of the mind”. Odegbami used the Nigerian music and movie (Nollywood) industries to stress how thinking people went into those industries and transformed them.

He stated that great coaches like Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson played the game in their minds before the game. When the game did not pan out like they planned, they think it through as it was being played to devise counter-strategies for what was happening on the pitch.

Odegbami went on to blame the sacked coach Stephen Keshi for his downfall. He revealed that Keshi was involved in the players’ bonus dispute on the eve of the biggest game of his life – the quarterfinal clash against France at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He said Keshi and the players “held the country to ransom”, and it required the sports minister flying to Brazil with cash to pay the players, with payments going on into the early hours of the day of the quarterfinal match.

Odegbami felt that Keshi should have left after the World Cup because from then he became “an accident waiting to happen”. The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) wanted to sack Keshi but he was supported by someone within the presidency, according to Odegbami.

The former winger argued that Keshi’s alleged application for the Ivory Coast national team job, although it was a convenient excuse for his removal, indicated that Keshi was not that good as a coach. This was because “good coaches don’t apply for jobs, the job comes looking for them”. It was “the less successful” that applied for jobs.

Odegbami: intellectual capacity a useful ingredient
Odegbami: intellectual capacity a useful ingredient

He gave a brief description of two different type of coaches. There were coaches who “know how to teach”. These usually handle junior teams. Then there were coaches that were “tactically savvy and organised”. He put Mourinho in the latter category. Odegbami said you wouldn’t have time to teach at national level.

He said that alongside coaching the national team, the NFF was expecting Oliseh to organise coaching clinics, work on the development of the game, etc. He thought this should be the role of Amodu Shuaibu, the technical director. He thought that Oliseh should focus on the national team and believed loading more stuff in his in-tray was setting him up for failure.

Odegbami did not expect Oliseh to be as successful as Keshi with the national team. However, Oliseh “will lay a solid foundation for football development”.

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