Oliseh- “To produce 1994 squad will be difficult”

The new Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh,
spoke exclusively with FRIDAY OLOKOR at
Transcorp Hilton, Abuja shortly after he was
unveiled as Nigeria coach on Wednesday
How did this current journey with the Super Eagles
It started like the journey of any other coach; I was
approached with the job after it became vacant,
and after initial reservations, we discussed and I
accepted the offer.
Was the Nigeria Football Federation in touch with
you over a long period or were you contacted only
No, it was not a long process; it was after the
position became vacant that they contacted me
and we spoke.
Nigerians were made to believe that you were not
interested in this job. What has informed your
decision to accept it now?
It is true, and I must say that those that are now in
charge of the NFF showed me a different approach
in the way they went about it. They were in
agreement that I should give my own conditions
and we talk about them and agreed. That informed
my change of mind.
The Super Eagles have dropped in the FIFA ranking
and had failed to qualify for the last Africa Cup of
Nations. Won’t you be under pressure in this
Well, there is always pressure when you are doing
anything with top-level football.
What are your immediate plans for the Eagles?
My plan is first to assemble a credible team and
then try to hopefully pass on my ideas unto the
team in a way that will make us successful.
…And your projections?
I don’t have projections; I just have an ambition to
make it better than it was before I came.
You were reported to have said Nigerians should
not see you as a messiah. Why?
I don’t want anybody to think I will come and wave
a magic wand, and all of a sudden we will start
winning and we will start flying. If that happens
anyway, I won’t refuse it. But what I am just trying
to say is that it is going to be a difficult task and
we will do our best.
NFF officials have said you are not just going to
manage the Eagles but help rebuild the entire
football system. Is this not going to be a serious
challenge, going by what happened in the past?
It is a huge challenge. What one had to do is to
participate in the outlining and try to make out
suggestions. But the execution of those outlines
and the organisations are not left to me. That, I will
try more to execute with the responsibilities I have
with the Super Eagles.
Some domestic league players got places in the
Eagles’ main squad under Stephen Keshi. What
would be their fate?
I will do it in my own way. That is, if a player is
good enough, we will get him invited to camp. If he
is good enough and better than anybody who is
overseas-based, he will play.
One of the factors inhibiting the growth of Nigerian
football is the lack of quality players. How do you
intend to close this gap?
What I intend to do is to try and get quality players
for the team and hopefully, it will be like a catalyst
that will spur the others to play in a certain manner
and get us in the right direction.
One of the issues, you promised to address is
lateness to camp and indiscipline. How do you
intend to achieve that?
If you are late and exhibit indiscipline, you don’t
Can you be specific on the level of indiscipline in
the team?
It has not happened yet; why not wait.
There have been cases of players disobeying
Look, I am not going to judge a player or any man
for something he did or how he was before I came
in contact with him. I will only judge players or
people or try to challenge them on what they do
when we start working together. So I can’t tell you
if a player jumps from the ceiling, I will do anything
because I don’t know yet.
Do we expect that you will reproduce the 1994
Well, look, my parents gave birth to six kids. We
are five different boys, we have a lot of similarities
and we also have what makes us different. If it is
so for the children of same parents, how is it
possible that a nation as big as ours will produce
another generation like that of 1994 again? We will
try, but it is going to be definitely different, may be
less good. But you can’t produce the same team.
Can we say the era of foreign coaches is over with
your appointment?
Well, it is up to me to do well. I’m determined to get
the best and give myself the best. But I think that
just as the foreign teams hardly ever give
opportunities to Africans or Nigerians to coach, if
we don’t give opportunities to our coaches, we will
never have coaches.
In 2002, you missed in action after helping Nigeria
qualify for the World Cup. I guess that was a painful
aspect of your career.
I think it is probably because of 2002 that I am
here today. After what happened, people were
actually made to believe wrong things and were led
along the wrong lines. And eventually, Nigerians
being as smart as they are understood what really
happened. So that was probably part of the clamour
for my return.
How are you going to contend with the politics in
the NFF?
There is nothing with contention; I just want to do
my job. We have made out the guidelines, which is
call the contract. And from my side, we are going
to follow it.
Nigerians are worried that our local league
matches are not selling.
I have a feeling that it will get better because, as
you see, teams are beginning to win away games.
Those are signs, and it will get better.

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