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Oliseh: couldn't take the heat in the boiling cauldron of Nigerian football

Sunday Oliseh resigns as Nigeria coach

Sunday Oliseh, the coach of the Nigerian national team, announced his resignation on Twitter in the early hours of this morning.

In a couple of bombshell tweets, the hotheaded former national team skipper and defensive midfielder wrote: “Due to contract violations, lack of support, unpaid wages, benefits to my players, asst coaches & myself, I resign as Super Eagles Chief Coach”.

He wrote in the next tweet: “I feel fortunate, blessed and eternally grateful for having had the honour to play, captain & coach the great nation of ours, Nigeria”.

Oliseh was appointed coach in July last year, and heralded as the “African Pep Guardiola”, practically on the basis of his perceptive analysis as a pundit on TV. But it appeared Oliseh could not take the proverbial heat in the kitchen of Nigerian football. He chose to remain based in Belgium, rather than in Nigeria. This did not go down well with many fans.

Not long into his tenure, Oliseh fell out with captain and experienced goalie Vincent Enyeama, who retired from the national team. Striker Emmanuel Emenike also retired, as many Super Eagles watchers wondered whether Oliseh, despite his unproven technical qualities (he is one of the few Nigerian coaches with a Uefa Pro Licence – the highest coaching qualification in Europe), had the temperament to handle the big time.

Things moved from bad to worse when Oliseh ranted on Youtube against “insane” critics, who had stuck the knife in when the Nigerian “B” team of domestic league players lost in the The African Nations Championship (CHAN).

He eventually apologised and was fined by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for the ill-advised rant. But it seemed the damage had been done in terms of Nigerian fans seeing Oliseh as a drama queen and high maintenance.

His suspect temperament and the corruption and incompetence of the NFF meant that this was a marriage that was always doomed for a messy divorce. A source informed that some NFF bigwigs wanted to “force their players on Oliseh” and he wasn’t as malleable as previous coaches.

Many undeserving players always found a way of getting selected for Nigeria because agents, coaches and NFF officials saw the national team as a vehicle for marketing the players to European clubs. It is suspected that top NFF officials each have a handful of players that they “represent”.

As Oliseh refused to play ball, the source indicated that the administrators wanted Oliseh to fail and frustrated him at every turn.

He has now quit and the resignation letter said it is with “immediate effect”, leaving the team in the lurch with two crucial Africa Cup of Nations Group G encounters with group leaders Egypt coming up on 26 and 29 March. Egypt has six points from two games, with Nigeria in second place with four from two. The group winners qualify, while the runners-up also qualify if they are one of the two runners-up with the best records.

The Egyptians surely can’t believe their luck as Nigerian football once again pulls off the remarkable feat of shooting itself in the foot.

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