In what was the best circumstancial decision taken, the NFF appointed former Eagles defender and captain, Austin Eguavoen as the Super Eagles interim manager.
In just weeks to a major tournament(the AFCON) and with a team struggling with identity, this is a very dangerous job to take.
But the man nicknamed Cerezo is no stranger to these circumstances. He should particularly be at home because he’s been the technical director of the federation. He’s been close to the team. Ideally, it’s expected he should be close to the team’s composition and philosophy.
Eguavoen has been quiet in that role. He’s naturally a quiet man. We worked together in the OSMI 2014 world cup studios in Lagos. I like his personality. His understanding of the game is pragmatic.
In the cul-de-sac the NFF found itself, Eguavoen was the man to go to. It’s a no brainer, but our getting here has been hugely controversial. I feel sorry for Eguavoen for being at the right place at a wrong time.
He was a scapegoat in 2006 at that year’s nations cup. He led a young team to Egypt. That year, I was privileged to cover the event. The team was exciting. Played to the semi final in Alexandria, but lost to Cote d’Ivoire. I sat behind the goal and saw how Didier Drogba’s shot pierced Vincent Enyeama’s legs. A third place win compensated for that loss.
The circumstances that led to the sloppy performance against Cote d’Ivoire are similar to what obtain now. In the Super Eagles, things repeat themselves, time and time have proved this.
In 2006, there was a collectively and individually gifted team Eguavoen worked with. In 2021, it’s not the same core quality. Nigerians don’t have the same belief in the team.
I strongly believed in 2006, Eguavoen should have retained the job. I was proved right. German legend, Berti Vogts, recruited for the 2008 AFCON didn’t do better. Again, I was in Ghana and saw it all.
The possibility of Eguavoen returning from Cameroon as the scapegoat of the team’s showing is not a doubt given the lead up to qualification and the quality of play in the world cup qualifiers.
Most importantly, our generally poor admittance of the crass quality of today’s Super Eagles. Anything can happen with the Super Eagles, that has always been it, but the pessimism of this era is more pervasive.
Best of luck Cerezo. I hope you are able to knock this well, tough job, tough circumstances. But I won’t pick you as scapegoat if things go awry.