by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (March 4th 2010)
We published this series of articles in 2010. With the debate raging over whether English football should implement its version of American Footballʼs Rooney Rule to guarantee black and minority ethnic (BME) candidates an interview for coaching/managerial jobs in the top flight of English football, we decided that the plight of African coaches in their own countries deserved another airing.
Former Super-Eagles coach Shuaibu Amodu has critics – several of them – especially in Nigeria, but did he deserve his fate? He managed to staunch the bleeding from the Berti Vogts era and did so quickly. The German richly deserved his fate after achieving one of the worst showings that the Super-Eagles had managed in the finals of the African Cup of Nations in 2008.
“I think it was the wrong decision, because they had a coach who was successful”, said African legend Kalusha Bwalya. “Iʼm sure they had their own reasons, but from my point of view I think it was not a good decision, because even if he was a good coach in Germany, he does not know African football as well as [Augustine] Eguavoen after everything that Eguavoen has done with this team. If anything it harmed the harmony that Eguavoen had, so they started a new campaign going in with somebody who had no prior knowledge of working in Africa and also his record is not something to marvel at”.
The African Mentality
The great Ghanaian coach Cecil Jones Attuquayefio goes further. “It is difficult to understand it”, he said about the decision to hire Vogts – the man who turned the Super-Eagles into the Super-Chickens. “I have narrated lots of examples that show we have problems with Africans. It is the African mentality throughout the whole of Africa”.
His denunciation is reasoned and justified. “For too long it has affected the whole of Africa, because if you ask for Bertie Vogts – if you are going to contract a coach – you need to look at his background”, he says. “You want to look at his achievements. You want to look at the work he can do for you – if he has done it before – and if Nigerians were able to gather all this information and still come to the conclusion that he is the right man, then you are searching for the reason and you cannot find it anywhere”.
Older and Wiser
Vogts’ spell in charge of Nigeria was disastrous to put it mildly. Shortly after they were eliminated by the hosts Ghana in 2008, Vogts resigned. Augustine Eguavoen, who had been demoted to serve as Vogts’ assistant was also sacked, despite having achieved greater success at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in 2006. Local coach James Peters was given temporary charge before the Nigerian FA turned to Shuaibu Amodu for the fourth time in April 2008.
Amodu – older and wiser – was a safe pair of hands. He was the last coach to qualify the Super-Eagles for the World Cup, but he was denied the chance to lead the team in South Korea and Japan. Festus Adegboyega Onigbinde wasted that opportunity.
Amodu remained his own man and despite a superb record in the first phase of qualification, which helped to eliminate World Cup hosts South Africa from the African Cup of Nations, Amodu was never fully accepted by Nigerian fans and media alike. Eventually, he would pay the price as the African Mentality asserted itself again.