Barring any last minute changes, top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will meet with Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, in Abuja today to discuss the NFF’s plans for a foreign coach, as well as the poor performance of the Super Eagles in the on-going Gabon 2017 African Nations Cup qualifying series.
Nigeria was effectively knocked out of the race for the Gabon 2017 ticket after losing 0-1 to Egypt in Alexandria last month.
The Eagles have only two points from three games, while Egypt have seven points in Group G from where only one team will qualify for Gabon.
Nigeria have missed three out of the last four African Nations Cup competition, a situation the NFF blames on the poor quality of the local coaches that have been saddled with the responsibility of training the Eagles since 2008.
A source close to the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, said yesterday that the federation has a convincing argument to sway Dalung into accepting the decision to hire a foreign coach for the country, adding that the quality in the proposed manager is one that would lift Nigerian football from the doldrums.
Dalung is an outspoken advocate for Nigerian coaches, but the source, who pleaded anonymity, believes recent events in Nigerian football are enough to sell the idea of a foreign coach to the minister.
The minister was recently quoted to have insisted that the problem of Nigerian football was not only about poor coaching, adding that advocates for foreign coaches were doing that for selfish reasons.
“You don’t access a coach with one match. You give him ample opportunity and generate correct data to access his performance.
“The hiring and firing of coaches just on one performance speaks volumes of senses of judgment and it does not augur well for our football. It must stop now.”
However, advocates for a foreign coach for the Super Eagles submit that Nigeria has no business failing to qualify for the 2017 African Nations Cup when the quality of players available for selection are weighed against that of Egypt and other African countries.
“With players like Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Moses, Moses Simon, Odion Ighalo, Mikel Obi, and so many other youngsters from our recent U-17, U-20 and U-23 teams, we had no reason to struggle against such teams as Swaziland, Chad, Tanzania and Egypt.
“We have discovered that most of the coaches, who work for agents, place their personal interests above that of the country. That is why the NFF is bent on getting the services of a foreigner, who has no allegiance to anybody other than Nigerian football, to harness the best talents the country can bring forth,” the source said.