Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Not again, NFF!

Barely 48 hours after Nigeria's national hero, coach Stephen Keshi delivered the precious golden trophy of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations' continent-wide soccer competition, it's disturbing to read conflicting news stories about the future of this heroic coach of the national football squad, the Super Eagles.  In my opinion, he deserves nothing less than a doubling of his annual salary. After all, prior to Keshi's spectacularly successful reign as Nigeria's national coach, the bureaucracy of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had, from time to time, engaged in questionable and seemingly opportunistic hiring of national coaches (more often than not, with ultimate results that did little or no perceptible justice to the extravagant costs of such dubious hirings in terms of the subsequent performance of the Super Eagles ) at enormous costs that may outweigh what would emerge as Keshi's new annual salary if his current compensation package is doubled! It was a dubious pattern of hiring on the part of NFF that more often than not left a sour taste in the mouth of Nigeria's public opinion. This pattern of dubious hirings of Nigeria's national coaches became a favorite subject of beer-parlor chatter often featuring speculations about possible foreign exchange deals that might or might not have motivated a particular streak of glutinous appetite in NFF's taste of coaches. 

As a football management entity, the NFF appears to be in a suffocating, unrelenting and unholy grip of a bureaucratic cabal which has a notoriety for meting out indignity to Nigerian coaches, and it's high time that someone put those bureaucrats in their proper place! It's apropos to recall, for instance, the humiliation that ex-national coach, Christian Chukwu suffered at the hands of this bureaucratic cabal that seems to be so well-entrenched that it survives successive federal administrations. I also recall how another ex-national coach, Shaibu Amodu was displaced by this same crop of alleged foreign-estacode sniffing NFF bureaucrats after he succeeded in qualifying the Nigerian national team for the summer 2010 World Cup soccer finals. Applying a questionable logic and a dose of disparaging media propaganda against the coach about his alleged deficiencies in technical expertise, the NFF got rid of the goose that laid the golden egg--that is, the man who performed the feat of qualifying his national squad for participation in the elite world cup finals at a time that many other African nations failed to make it into the list of six African countries that were featured in that global final contest in South Africa.
As a global project, the FIFA World Cup involves a weeding out process that eventually reduces the pool of competitors from about 200 to 32. Qualifying matches are played with six continental zones of FIFA, namely Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania and Europe. In 2010, Nigeria was one of six African nations that participated in the world cup finals, including the host nation of South Africa. Usually, Africa is assgined five spots on the 32-member list of countries that participate in the world cup finals, but received a sixth spot that year because the host nation was African--that is, South Africa. Arduous as it is, qualifying one's nation for the small list of final world cup finals' participating nations is in and of itself a great accomplishment for any coach, as well as reflective of demonstrably effective technical know-how on the part of that coach. For coach Amodu, that objective and concrete performance should have served as a sufficient basis for allowing him to carry on and nurture his team of Super Eagles through the world cup finals in South Africa. But the alleged estacode-maniacs within NFF had their sights on some other self-serving objective. Thus, this cabal unceremoniously "dropped" coach Amodu like a used-up empty can, and then hurriedly went for a replacement coach who was reported to have lost a job as the coach of his own national team--just a few months before the start of the 2010 world cup final matches in South Africa. Given the short time span left between the onset of this new appointment and the start of the global competition in summer 2010, it was clear to all right-thinking minds that no new coach--even one with an unsurpassed pedigree of successful coaching--would have found that short time span to be sufficient for learning and understanding a new team, let alone building a collection of team members into a cohesive unit.

Let me conclude for now by letting it be known that if I were Nigeria's President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, I would dismiss the Nigeria Football Federation's (NFF) bureaucracy (and rebuild it later on a clean slate) if heroic Coach Keshi is let go or simply annoyed out by possibly foreign-estacode thirsty bureaucrats. And, I would do it the Nigerian way--that is, in Nigeria, there is an administrative tool called dismissal with ignominy. For now, however, one is consoled to learn from emerging news (http://allafrica.com/nigeria/?aa_source=main-nav-t3 ) that whatever irked coach Keshi has been resolved and that he would stay on as the victorious national coach of the Nigerian nation.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The soccer champions of Africa

Cheers! Cheers!! Cheers!!! Yes, the Super Eagles of Nigeria made all Nigerians proud today by winning the final match of the 2013 African Cup of Nations soccer competition between Nigeria and Burkina Faso! This final game, which ended 1-0 in favor of Nigeria, was played in South Africa. The Super Eagles are now the champions of the continent-wide African Cup of Nations competition! Bravo to National Coach, Stephen Keshi! He is now the king of African football coaching! He has now effectively enthroned his own winning formula for African soccer. It's a new day for the Keshi doctrine of soccer management. Videos of his triumphs will now become a must-see in coaching circles around the world! He has refurbished and redeemed the image of the club of Nigerian coaches. The winning goal by golden boy Sunday Mba, which came in the first half, was of world class standard. May his reign never end! Yes, at least on this score, we can say with pride that Nigeria earned its nickname as the giant of Africa. 

This victory goes beyond soccer in terms of its symbolic implications for the national psyche of the Nigerian nation which has taken quite a beating from a succession of negative news stories and disfiguring images in recent weeks. The nation needed a morale lift! The Super Eagles delivered one today in a resounding manner! 

As happens from time to time, including Nigeria's other glorious moments in international soccer, such as its dual Olympic soccer championships in recent decades, today's victory is reflective of Nigeria's potentials for victory in several other areas of national life--when it can get its act together. That is, when a Nigerian national project is managed effectively, more often than not, it's brought to a successful conclusion. So, the Nigerian nation can win in other areas as well--be it national, state and local politics, national economic affairs, etc., provided that it deploys an effective management. State and local governments can win--when managed effectively! Pipe borne water can flow when managed effectively! The institutions of learning can perform wonders when managed effectively. Instead of being in a permanent state of comatose, the electrical supply system can meet its consumers' expectations when managed effectively! Trash collection will become a routine success when managed effectively! The list is endless. All that this young nation needs to do is to figure out a way manage its affairs effectively, and the masses of Nigeria will begin to harvest the fruits of democracy! In all other areas of its national life, it surely has the potential to do better than it's doing now. More on this later!