Osaze: First Eagle StandingPublished: February 03, 2010
Arguably Nigeria’s topmost striker by current standards, Osaze Odemwingie is proving his value not only in the technical area required of him – field of play – but also outside it where a strong voice is needed to help stay the course of the Super Eagles and that of the Nigerian game at the international level.
This he proved beyond all reasonable doubt in a meeting that the Nigeria Football Federation held with the team before they left Angola. A source at the meeting said: "Osaze stood up and asked that the NFF hire a foreign coach for the team. Other players who spoke at the meeting included Kanu and Obafemi Martins."
With everyone seeming to be afraid of saying things that would not be to the disagreement of Shaibu Amodu – and that seemed to include both players and administrators – it was left to the winger of velvet skills and movement to hit the nail by the head and speak the truth without caring whose horse was going to be gored.
Standing up as the only one with enough derring-do to tow that kind of line, Odemwingie declared that if the NFF really wanted the ship of the Super Eagles to begin to sail smoothly and with better speed, particularly in the World Cup Finals sea, it would be needing a new captain in the technical department.
According to a source in the meeting, Osaze first noted how it took when the aging but highly experienced Nwankwo Kanu was featured before central attackers begin to get through passes in all the Eagles matches. Then the player went on to indict the coaches for not realising the importance of this in all their previous matches. He said it was bad that the technical crew did not realise this was lacking in the team and that it had been only Kanu that was capable of filling that void.
Odemwingie went on to note to everyone in the meeting how against Algeria in the third-place playoff, it was the vast experience of Kanu that helped the team to the bronze that went on to become the consolation prize for Nigeria. Given this, he was said to have directly asked that Super Eagles be given a foreign technical adviser that knows his onions.
The source quoted Odemwingie, the Lokomotiv Moscow striker, to have said: "We really did want to fare better than we did this time, but it is unfortunate that all we have now is the bronze. A better performance would have served as a big step in our preparations towards the World Cup in June. But the sad reality of our tactical plan was that we were too defensive. We were not a very offensive team in this tournament, which also sadly meant we could not showcase the best, or even the true form, of Nigerian football.
“We do have the potential but I believe we need to have more options to our game than just having one system.
"The Algeria game showed what we have been lacking in our first five games - the experience of Kanu. We needed someone with his experience who could also get the strikers to play and that was what Kanu did against Algeria." The Portsmouth striker gave at least four through balls against Algeria even if the Eagle strikers failed to utilise any of those chances.
The meeting was a parley called by the federation, and which took place at the Hotel Praia Morena in Benguela on the night of the third place match against Algeria.
The team met for over three hours during which both players and coaches were allowed to bare their minds on the way forward for the Super Eagles.
Odemwingie was bold enough in the presence of Coach Shaibu Amodu and his assistants to tell the NFF president, Sani Lulu, and other board members like Taiwo Ogunjobi and Shehu Adamu the tactical deficiencies of the team and ask that a foreign coach be hired on time for the World Cup Finals coming up in the summer in South Africa.
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