Give Me Saintfiet’s Job
Posted: Jun 28, 2012
MINISTER OF SPORTS and chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi recently over-ruled the appointment of Tom Saintfiet as the Technical Director (TD) designate for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). Needless to say that the minister’s decision enjoys my support as I had previously objected to the Belgian’s appointment in this column.
I belong firmly to the school of thought that a Nigerian is the best man for the job and I recall suggesting either Chief Adegboye Onigbinde (for his experience as a former coach of the Super Eagles and CAF/FIFA technical study group member for many years) or Sunday Oliseh (for his experience as former captain of the national team and his brilliant academic qualifications as a budding coach with fresh ideas).
I went further to say that if the NFF must employ a foreigner, then it should be the “Dutch-gerian” Clemens Westerhof for his wide experience as a former Eagles coach and his familiarity with the make-up of the average Nigerian footballer and our football system.
Given a well articulated agenda and the space, time and quality support staff to work with, I still believe that any of the trio will do a good job of drafting and implementing a proper football development policy framework for Nigeria. But if the NFF want a larger field to choose from, I have a few more names to add to my list: Shaibu Amodu and Mumini Alao!
Before you laugh your head off at my name, I guess you should wait for me to make my case. But first, let’s assess my latest “rival” for the job.
Shaibu Amodu is actually not my personal idea. I got talking with Mr. John Mastoroudes last week and it was his opinion that Amodu should be considered for the job. Beyond practical coaching where Amodu has definitely excelled whether you like or loathe him, there are some academic and research aspects of the TD’s job where I think he may be inadequate. But having worked directly with Amodu as a member of the Presidential Task Force for the Super Eagles qualification for the 2010 World Cup, Mastoroudes is convinced that Amodu has all that it takes to be an excellent TD for Nigerian football.
I happen to rate Mastoroudes and his judgement of football matters very highly because he’s very knowledgeable and he knows Nigerian football inside out. If Mastoroudes says Amodu can do it, I believe Amodu should be considered.
Now to the biggest contender of the lot, Mumini Alao! Let me sound a quick note of warning: Everything I have written up to this point has been done with all seriousness and I hope the NFF will treat it as such. However, I leave readers and the NFF to determine how seriously they want to treat my candidature because, as they say in these matters, I cannot judge myself.
For many years now, I have been on the look-out for an opportunity to show off my curriculum vitae as a talented footballer and an “accomplished” technician and tactician. Quite often, I have received letters from readers wondering where the strength and depth of my football analysis and predictions come from. I have been modest about it all along - but now that I am offering my services as technical director of Nigerian football, I have to justify my qualification.
Following is my very rich CV:
Full Name: Mumini Alao
Qualification: B.Sc, M.Sc, Mass Communication; Honorary PhD, Soccer Analysis, Tactics and Technique.
Favourite Sports: Football, Table Tennis, Car Racing, Golf, Tennis, Basketball, Boxing, Swimming and Gymnastics.
Sports Actively Involved In Football and Table Tennis
Record of Participation:
1. Primary School: During break time at Ota District Council (ODC) School in Sango Ota, Ogun State, between 1973 and 1975, I usually participated in what we called “Five and Six” football matches.
All pupils in Primary 5 would play against pupils in Primary 6. Just picture what its was like to have about 200 kids chasing one football on a single pitch. Yes, it was sheer madness! Many “players” never got to touch the ball for the entire duration of the “match”. But trust me, I always managed to get a piece of the action and even scored on a few occasions. It was an invaluable experience for me in a daily encounter about the “survival of the fittest.”
2. Secondary School: I was too small to play for the school team at Iganmode Grammar School, also in Ota, between 1975 and 1980, so I settled for the “Greater Tomorrow” teams. I played with students in Forms One and Two even when I was in my final year (Form Five!). At that time, age was not the factor in determining youth teams, but size.
I represented my Ifo/Ota Local Government in the boys football event of the 2nd Ogun State Sports Festival in 1978. We thrashed Odeda LG 4-0 in our first match but were later eliminated by Ijebu-Remo 1-0 in a keenly contested final qualifier played in Abeokuta. I made the team partly because I could use both feet to shoot well.
Our coach Adegbite had promised we could keep our beautiful yellow jerseys if we beat Ijebu-Remo but we lost and I remember that I cried. However, I still went to the Sports Festival as a badminton player, and I was one of the ball boys for the men’s football final played at Asero Stadium in Abeokuta, now known as the Muda Lawal Stadium.
3. Higher School Certificate: I did not play for Anwar-ul-Islam College, Agege, Lagos like my classmate Waidi Akanni who went on to play for the Super Eagles. Instead, I played a lot of “set” games and semi-professional football. I recall representing a Church football team in a competition played at Ifako-Agege, Lagos, even though I am a Muslim. You know, I had to be a professional. We prayed and prayed before we did anything in “camp.” We reached the final of the competition but lost 1-0.
4. University: I did not make the University of Lagos football team 1984 - 1987 because the football coach had made up his mind about the players he wanted to pick. That turned me off and I concentrated on representing my hall of residence, Jaja Hall. I recall playing as a super substitute and turning a game around from 1-0 down to a 2-1 victory over New Hall (I think) during an inter-hall competition. I didn’t score, but provided the assists for our two goals. I was picked to start the next game but I couldn’t make the same impact and we lost. I controlled a hot shot with my chest and nearly passed out!
5. Youth Service: I did my national youth service in the old Anambra State (now Enugu State) in 1987/88 and that is where my coaching career began! I was coach/player of Platoon 8 at the Orientation Camp in Awgu and we had to face the best platoon, Platoon 1, in the semi-finals after beating some weaker platoons. Unfortunately, some of my players suddenly went missing and I had to face Platoon 1 with only eight players. I mapped out an effective strategy and we were able to hold them to a goalless draw with eight men before eventually losing in a penalty shoot-out. My tactical strategy was a masterstroke and I’m still proud of it till today.
From there, I was selected for the Anambra State NYSC team and we reached the semi-finals played at the Yaba College of Technology on a rain-swept day before losing. We also lost the third-place match to finish fourth overall.
6. Working Life: I have played a few SWAN Cups for Complete Communications Limited as a coach/player. My fondest memory was when I played as a substitute and again turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory over the old Daily Times. I was the match hero. We were later eliminated in a penalty shoot-out by defunct Sportslink newspaper. But that was after I showed current NFF board member Emeka Inyama hell with my great skills. We missed a lot of scoring opportunities and Sportslink were fortunate to win on penalties.
7. Coaching Attachments: I worked at close quarters with Nigeria’s most successful coach ever, Clemens Westerhof, and witnessed, first hand, how he built the Golden Generation of the Super Eagles between 1989 and 1994. I have also observed very closely several other national team coaches including Shaibu Amodu, Adegboye Onigbinde, Paul Hamilton, Tunde Disu, Jo Bonfrere and Under-17 World Cup-winning coach Fanny Amu. On the international scene, I met Italy’s coach Arigo Sacchi and Argentina’s former World Cup-winning coach Carlos Bilardo at USA ‘94 World Cup. I have also met England’s 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton, former Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard, the great Diego Maradona and a host of other top coaches and players and discussed football tactics with them!
In 1993, I trained occasionally with the Nigerian Under-20 team to the African Youth Championship in Mauritius and I recall goalkeeper Andrew Aikhomugbe being surprised by one of my hot shots! On the way to USA ‘94 World Cup, I trained also with the Super Eagles a few times alongside Vanguard newspaper’s Onoche Anibeze who is a living witness to my exquisite soccer skills!
My Case: All the foregoing experiences and involvement in football prepared me for what I do today, analysing the game and predicting possible outcomes which are often right on target. If the NFF appoint me as the technical director for Nigerian football, the Super Eagles will win the World Cup 10 years from now in 2022.
PS: THIS article is not intended to trivialize the Technical Director’s job, but to humorously elevate my narration which some readers had previously requested while asking me to apply for the Super Eagles coaching job in the past! I’m sure that the NFF can make the distinction between the serious side of this article and the humour.
Readers’ reactions are welcome.
MUMINI. Your piece (last week) reflects my views on Stephen Keshi’s Army - strong in zeal (but) weak in technique and tactics. Unfortunately, we can’t wait for the team to grow or we will miss the train to SA and Rio. – Tayo Balogun, Sports Consultant, Channels TV, Lagos.
DEAR M.A. Ganiyu, the mathematician goofed. Keshi’s 7 points from 3 games (i.e. 9 points) is 78%, not 83%. – R. Araba, Ikeja.
* You’re right. Ganiyu actually said 78% but a typing error resulted in the 83% published.
CORRECTION: Last week, I wrote that Chief Jonathan Ogunfere was a former secretary general of WAFU. He was actually a former president. And he clocked 80 years on June 23, 2012, not 2013. The error is regretted.
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