How Amodu Shuaibu Made History Against All Odds.
The Fieldmarshal on 14/11/09
AMODU SHAIBU – HERO OR VILLAIN?
Thirty-four (34) coaches have managed the Nigerian super eagles. Twenty four (24) of them were foreign coaches; while ten (10) were Nigerians.
- John Finch (England: 1949)
- Dan Anyiam (Nigeria: 1955, 1959, 1962, 1964-1965)
- Les Courtier (England: 1956-1957, 1960)
- Eric Jones (England: 1958)
- Moshe Beth-Halevi (Israel: 1960-1961)
- George Vadar (Hungary: 1961-1963)
- Jesse Carver (England: 1963)
- Jorge Penna (Brazil: 1963-1964, 1971-1974)
- Josef Ember (Hungary: 1965-1968)
- Sabino Barinaga (Spain: 1968-1969)
- Heinz Marotzke (Germany: 1970-71, 1974)
- Peter ‘Eto’ Amaechina (Nigeria: 1973)
- Othman Calder (Germany: 1974)
- Buba Mihailovic (Yugoslavia: 1975)
- Jelisavcic Tihomir-Tiko (Yugoslavia: 1975-1978)
- Carl O’Dwyer (England: 1979)
- Otto Gloria (Brazil: 1979-1982)
- Gottlieb Goeller (Germany: 1981)
- Adegboye Onigbinde (Nigeria: 1983-1984, 2002)
- Chris Udemezue (Nigeria: 1984-1985)
- Patrick Ekeji (Nigeria: 1985)
- Manfred Hoener (Germany: 1987-1989)
- Paul Hamilton (Nigeria: 1987, 1989)
- Clemens Westerhorf (Netherlands:1989-1994)
- Amodu Shaibu(Nigeria: 1994-1995, 1999, 2001-2002, 2008-)
- Carlos Alberto Torres (Brazil: 1995)
- Johannes Bonfrere (Netherlands: 1995-1996, 1999-2001)
- Philippe Troussier (France: 1997)
- Monday Sinclair (Nigeria: 1997)
- Bora Milutinovic (Serbia: 1998)
- Thijs Libregts (Netherlands: 1998-1999)
- Christian Chukwu (Nigeria: 2002-2005)
- Austin Eguavoen(Nigeria: 2005-2006)
- Berti Vogts (Germany: 2007-2008)
Of all these coaches, only Amodu Shaibu has managed the national team on four different occasions.
It is on record that out of these 24 expatriates, only Clemens Westerhoff and Philippe Troussier qualified Nigeria for the World Cup (Philippe Troussier resigned after he qualified Nigeria for France 98).
It is also on record that Amodu Shaibu is the only coach that has qualified Nigeria for World Cup on two different occasions – 2002 and 2010. The big question is this – why do Nigerians hate Amodu? Is Amodu a mediocre coach or what?
Let’s look at the antecedents of the man Amodu:
As coach of BCC lions of Gboko between 1989 and 1991, he won the FA Cup in 1989 and the African Cup Winners Cup in 1990.
As coach of El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri between 1991 and 1992, he won the FA Cup in 1991 and 1992 respectively.
He returned to BCC lions in 1993, and won the FA Cup the same year. In 1994, he won the Premier League and the FA Cup- making him the most successful indigenous coach at that time.
In 1994 he was appointed the coach of the National Team for the first time (being indisputably the best indigenous coach in Nigeria then) following the departure of Westerhoff after the 1994 World Cup. He was in charge of the team between 1994 and 1995.
Have we forgotten the Wembley showdown between Nigeria and England in 1994? It was David Platt’s header that separated the score line, but we cannot deny the fact that Amodu showed a class of his stuff in that encounter.
In 1995, he led Nigeria to the confederation cup in Saudi Arabia (then the King Fahd cup). He played 3 matches won 1 drew 1 and lost one on penalties.
In the same year he was shown the door and Bonfrere Jo was hired. What was his offence? He was not a foreign coach. He proved book makers wrong when he was appointed as the Head Coach of Orlando Pirates of South Africa the same year – indeed a prophet has no honour in his land.
In 1999 Amodu was appointed Coach of the National Team for the second time. He called shots for few months and was replaced just because Nigeria never believed a black man can qualify us for the World Cup. What was his offence? a black.
The same 1999, Bonfrere Jo was again appointed as the Technical Adviser of the Super Eagles. His mandate was to qualify Nigeria for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. He almost wrecked our World Cup dream (when he lost to Liberia and Sudan) and abandoned the team when he saw that all hope was lost. Virtually all Nigerians had lost hope in the qualification. Amodu once again was appointed (assisted by Stephen Okechukwu Keshi) to tinker the team.
Amodu won all the remaining matches, and Nigeria topped the group (with 16 point) at the expense of former leaders Liberia (15 points). Have we forgotten the three- goal thriller against Ghana – oh what a myopic memory we have. What the so called foreign coaches could not do Amodu did in style.
He led Nigeria to Mali 2002 and was denied the dream of coaching Nigeria in the world cup because we lost in the semi-final to Senegal (on penalties after extra time), and eventually finished 3rd. Crucify him, crucify him, everybody shouted. Oh Amodu, what did he do? What happened in Korea/Japan 2002 after the sack of Amodu? Your answer is as good as mine.
Again, in 2008, “Mr. save our super eagles” was appointed to manage our National Team after the much publicized Berti Vogt turned our dream into a quagmire and became a shadow of what many Nigerians expected. Did Amodu really prove his mettle? Let’s look at his record since he took charge.
2010 World Cup Qualifiers – First Stage
- Nigeria 2 v 0 south Africa, 1 June 2008
- Sierra Leone 0 v 1 Nigeria, 7 June 2008
- Equatorial Guinea 0 v 1 Nigeria, 15 June 2008
- Nigeria 2 v 0 equatorial guinea, 21 June 2008
- South Africa 0 v 1 Nigeria, 5 September 2008
- Nigeria 4 v 1 Sierra Leone, 11 October 2008
Fellow Nigerians, have our memories become so blurred that we cannot remember what we said at this stage of Amodu’s career. It was hosanna, hosanna, and hosanna. Six matches six wins, conceded only one (own) goal. A record or streak that has never been set by any Super Eagles coach both foreign and indigenous.
2010 World Cup Qualifiers – Second Stage
Mozambique 0 v 0 Nigeria, 29 march 2009
After this match, the same people who shouted hosanna, hosanna, hosanna, began to shout foreign coach, foreign coach, foreign coach. Amodu begged for a time, but what did Nigerians answer him? You know the answer. But let’s look at the reaction of Nigerians at this stage of the qualification on the road to USA 94. After an impressive run at the first stage, Nigeria was drawn in the same group at the second stage with Algeria and Cote d’ Ivoire. In the first game played against the elephants of Cote d’ Ivoire at the Félix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium on 2 May 1993 (Austin Jay Jay Okocha’s first cap for the National Team) , the Eagles were humbled by 2-1 courtesy of a brace from Abdullahi Traore. Nobody, I mean nobody called for the sack of Westerhoff. Why? Because he was a white.
Why do Africans promote imbecility at the expense of statesmanship? Why do we place a higher premium on foreigners at the expense of our fellow blacks? Oh Africa, my Africa, when shall thy children come out of mediocrity and inferiority and face the reality? What is the reality? Obama example. Fellow Nigerians “ihe anyi na-acho n’uko elu, di n’uko ala” – that is wetin dey for Sokoto, dey for shokoto. The earlier we know that and stop witch-hunting ourselves, the better for us. May be Amodu should paint himself white. That definitely can work. Let’s proceed.
Nigeria 3 v 0 Kenya, 7 June 2009
Tunisia 0 v 0 Nigeria, 20 June 2009
After this match, the pressure became so intense that the one-time robust looking Amodu suddenly became a description of slender specimen.
Then came the bombshell-
Nigeria 2 v 2 Tunisia, 6 September 2009
Oh what a day? Nigeria was silent. In Abuja, rampaging youths throng the Nicon Luxury Hotel Abuja, where the Eagles were lodged, chanting war songs – give us the head of Amodu some chanted; crucify him, crucify him, others proclaimed. The same people that shouted hosanna, hosanna, hosanna – what a twist? The NFF secretly began to make contacts for a foreign coach, Rotimi Amaechi (Governor of Rivers State) swore that Amodu would never see South Africa even if Nigeria qualified. Austin Okocha was drafted into the Technical Department. Oh what a helpless Amodu. Oh Amodu what did you do to them?
Nigeria 1 v 0 Mozambique, 11 October 2009
The stadium was almost empty because Nigerian were not happy with Amodu. After the match, many Nigerians had different views about the position of Amodu. Over 70% said he should be sacked after the last match whether we did qualify or not. Some said he should work under a foreign coach. Others still asked for his head.
I could recall I sang this beautiful number for some of my friends who called for Amodu’s removal as I took them back to memory lane.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings name them one by one
And it will surprise you what Amodu has done.
When I sang this song I was very convinced that come 14 November 2009, a new song would be released.
Meanwhile the ongoing FIFA U17 World Cup is characterized by unprecedented low turnout of spectators even with free tickets available for grab. Abuja is worst, the stadium was virtually empty in all the matches even on days that our darling Golden Eaglets played. Reason? Abuja Stadium reminds them of the man they hated so much. Back to Amodu
The D-Day: 14 November 2009
Tunisia was on top of Group B with 11 points while Nigeria was second with 9 points. Tunisia needed only a draw against Mozambique to qualify (Head to Head Rule) while Nigeria needed a maximum point against Kenya, but can only qualify Tunisia blow their chances. That was exactly the way it ended.
Kenya 2 v 3 Nigeria
Mozambique 1 v 0 Tunisia
I watched with surprise as people trooped the streets of Abuja celebrating the qualification of the Eagles. Ironically they chanted Up Eagles, Up Nigeria, but Amodu’s name was silent. Nigerian radio stations were agog with victory songs like Nelly Uchendu’s song – Every Match Eagles Must Win. The youths and children gathered in circles gyrating and celebrating, but no one mentioned Amodu’s name.
Success they say has many fathers, but failure is an orphan, but in Amodu’s case success suddenly became an orphan. If no one mentioned Amodu’s name in a moment of success, what would have happened if Nigeria did not qualify. CHAI!
Just because “Mr Fix It” has fixed it again, many have started calling Brila FM and other radio stations asking for where they could get the ticket to watch the Final of the U17 World between Nigeria and Switzerland tomorrow 15th November 2009. While wishing Coach John Obuh and his boys goodluck, my job tomorrow is very simple, just to look at the shameless faces of those critics.
Who is talking now? Will it be another Maradona’s garbage story as big Larry of Brila FM once prophesied? We shall see. Amodu is yet to talk, but my song shall ever be-
Song no 2
When we walk with Shaibu in the light of his word,
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will he abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Shaibu, but to trust and obey.
Song no 3
What a friend we have in Shaibu,
All our fears and grieves to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Every world cup dream to him!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Every world cup dream to him.
Many songs to write, but let’s proceed.
Let’s look at other matches played by Coach Amodu
- Nigeria 1 – 1 Austria, 27 May 2008
- Nigeria 0 – 1 Colombia, 19 November 2008
- Nigeria 0 – 0 Jamaica, 11 February 2009
- Nigeria 1 – 1 Republic of Ireland, 29 may 2009
- Nigeria 1 – 0 France, 2 June 2009
What a record – 17 matches 10 wins 6 draws 1 loss – I think Nigerians owe much to this young man. It will be a great disservice if Amodu does not lead Nigeria to the World Cup. Yes, it will be the height of ingratitude and injustice. Some say it is luck, and my question is this- is good result a function of technical competence or luck? If we say it is luck, then what about the laurels at BCC and El-Kanemi? What about Korea/Japan 2002 qualification (a feat our much hallowed Bonfrere Jo failed to achieve)? Oh Amodu, what has he done? Can we now say that what Van Gaal’s Ajax did against Milan in 1995, was luck, that what Sir Alex’ boys did against Bayern Munich in 1999 was luck, that what my friend Mourinho did in 2003 and 2004 were lucks, that Damman miracle was luck, that Japan 93 was luck, that Tunisia 94 was luck? When did football become a function of luck? Oh, what luck? Oh Amodu don suffer.
It will also be recalled that Amodu was the first coach to qualify Nigeria for the Beach World Cup. What happened after the qualification? He was dropped. Does it mean that Amodu is only good for qualification and not the competition? Or is it a curse? God forbid. But come to think of it. What of his records in the local scene? What of his records in the National Team (I don’t think Amodu has lost more than 5 matches in all his four rescue missions as a National Team Coach)? It can only take a genius to equal that record.
It is barely a year that he took charge and he has done what the likes of Berti Vogt and others could not do. If we could have patience with Westerhoff for five years, why call for Amodu’s sack.? Have we forgotten that Westerhoff failed to qualify us for Italian 90, led us to second place in Algiers 90, third place in Senegal 92, before he was able to build the team that is today considered as one of the best the nation has ever had? Have we forgotten that it took Alex Ferguson over four years before he could win any trophy for Manchester United. What happened after? You know better than I do. What of Arsene Wenger, Luis Aragones of Spain, Dunga of brazil etc- they all had their difficult times, but they were given time to bring the transformation they needed.
Which foreign coach can build a new team now other than what Amodu has? Which Nigerian coach has ever been paid up to half of what the foreign coaches were paid or given the same treatment as their foreign colleague? Yet amidst this sardonic disposition towards them, some of them like Amodu, Siasia, Brodericks, Amuh, etc have proved that if indigenous coaches are given the tool, (as Lincoln said- give me the tool and I shall finish the work) the work shall be completed. I have never been and will never be an advocate of a foreign coach. It’s time we started appreciating what we have. Foreign coaches are not better than our local coaches. Just give them the tools and see if the job will not be done.
Now, what is your view about Amodu? Is Amodu a hero or a villain? Who is the problem of Nigerian football – Amodu, NFF, or the players?
As for me and my entire house hold, Amodu is a twenty one century hero.
Amodu may the Lord bless and keep you. May He lift up the light of His countenance to you and be gracious unto you. May He lift up His face to you and give you peace. You have indeed fought a good fight; all the days of your life your song shall ever be- “veni vidi veci (I came, I saw, I conquered)”.
Before I sign out, I would like to say a big congratulations to these great African warriors- The Super Eagles of Nigeria, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, the Black Stars of Ghana, and the Elephants of Cote D’ Ivoire for booking a place in the World Cup. Congratulations in advance to the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Desert Warriors of Algeria as we await the result of their playoff. The Bafana Bafana of South Africa is not left out. Unarguably, these are the best teams in Africa. I have no doubt that an African team will break the semi final jinx in 2010.
Long live Amodu Shaibu
Long live the Super Eagles of Nigeria
Long live Africa