As the Super Eagles continue to navigate the current Afcon campaign in thrilling style with a beautiful brand of football and a record breaking 100% group stage win record, traction is building for the NFF to coronate Interim Guru Austin Eguavoen as Permanent Gaffer.
In truth, the Super Eagles have performed like royalty in the tournament thus far against all expectations owing to how badly primed they were. The team’s pre-tournament preparations foundered in the quagmire of the NFF’s own making because of their sacking of Gernot Rohr so close to the showpiece.
The NFF was largely pilloried at the time by many commentators who were friends and foes alike of Gernot Rohr. The battle ground wasn’t about Rohr’s brand of football, it was timing. History teaches us that sacking a coach so close to a major tournament is recipe for participation disaster.
However, the brand of football-meal on offer by the Super Eagles thus far in Cameroon has been nothing short of delicious and digestible. The Interim coach put in place by the NFF is vindicating what was a balsy and somewhat reckless move of giving Rohr his marching orders.
His inheritance? a team expected to win the Cup of Nations. His pedigree? part of a golden generation of Super Eagles players with an interesting tactical philosophy as a coach. His name? Austin Eguavoen.
And already Super Eagles have broken new grounds under the 56 year old Sapele born Interim Coach in this Afcon. Nigeria are: the only team with 9 points in the group phase; the team with best goals difference; the team with the most diverse goals scorers; the team with the perfect split of goals (3 goals in each half), and the only team yet to concede in open play.
Eguavoen has morphed the Super Eagles from dark horses to gracious unicorns.
But, the business end of the tournament has just begun and for me, it is too early to talk about giving Eguavoen the job on a permanent basis. But, let’s be indulgent to get ahead of ourselves for a minute and imagine he does deliver that pot of gold at the end of the green white green rainbow for Nigeria fans in this Afcon, should he be retained as substantive Coach?
I will have to say no, purely based on the model that the NFF appear to be promoting according to recent media reports.
The NFF are a gambling organisation. They like to play Russian Roulette with the feelings, yearnings and aspirations of fans with their experimental approaches. Sometimes it works but often it fails spectacularly. The organisation are looking at Eguavoen performing the dual role of Technical Director and Head Coach of the Super Eagles. An interesting concept on the face of it but one riddled with complexities and problems once you start to scratch beneath the surface. The two roles are very different. One is strategic, the other is operational. One is heavily short term while the other is primarily long term in outlook. One is oversight whilst the other administrative. One involves interacting more with senior administrators while the other involves interacting with players. To amalgamate both roles is to underestimate the nature of work needed for each to meet set aims, goals and objectives. For me, the NFF needs a full time Technical Director and a full time Head Coach of the Super Eagles each with unencumbered, unmuddled and delimited remit. That is the only way forward for Nigerian football in my humble opinion. However, should the NFF revert to type and announce Eguavoen in the dual role of Director and Coach, one can only hope that they get away with it, much of the way their disgraceful handling and poor timing of Rohr’s sacking is proving to be a runaway success.
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