The last time an indigenous coach led the Super Eagles was during the World Cup qualifying playoffs, which saw Nigeria missing out on the biggest football tournament in the world. Many football experts and fans questioned if the indigenous coaches of the Super Eagles deserved the appointment they got. Many posited that Nigerian indigenous coaches are not ready for the Super Eagles’ job.
The truth is foreign coaches who have led the Nigerian senior team have recorded more success than the indigenous coaches. However, that’s not to say that the indigenous coaches have been all-round failures. To buttress the point, below are the top 5 best indigenous coaches of the Super Eagles.
5 best indigenous coaches of the Super Eagles
5. Salisu Yusuf
Salisu Yusuf is a former Nigerian footballer and is now a professional team manager. The Kaduna-born football manager started his career as a midfielder for ABU Football Club before he went on to play for other Nigerian clubs. He represented the country at both junior and senior levels.
Yusuf began his managerial career in 2002 as the head coach of Nigeria Professional Football League side Nasarawa United. His success in the Nigerian football leagues earned him a place as the assistant coach to Samson Siasia, serving as the head coach of the Super Eagles in 2009.
Yusuf led the Super Eagles team B to a second-place finish at the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after finishing as runners-up at the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations in Ghana. However, his great domestic record was stained following a scandalous bribery incident where he was seen accepting a cash gift to get two players in his squad at the 2018 CHAN.
He subsequently served a one-year ban for bribery and returned to the team as their manager. Yusuf still manages the Super Eagles and led the team to 2023 CHAN qualifiers and an international friendly against World Cup-bound Ecuador, which they lost. Despite the losses, he remains one of the best coaches on the domestic scene.
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4. Samson Siasia
Samson Siasia will always be remembered as a remarkable Super Eagles player during his playing days. He was one of the heroes of the 1996 Olympics and is still regarded as one of the best strikers to come out of Nigeria.
Siasia also made his mark as a coach in the Super Eagles. After his outstanding success in the junior teams leading the Flying Eagles to the finals of both the 2005 Under-20 World Cup and the U-20 African Youth Championship, he also recorded massive success with the U-23 squad, where he led the team to the final against Argentina and earned the silver medal at the Olympics.
Although he failed to qualify the Super Eagles for the 2012 AFCON following his appointment in 2010, he made up for it by leading the Dream Team to a bronze medal, Nigeria’s only medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In August 2019, Siasia was handed a lifetime ban by FIFA for match-fixing. He appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and earned a reduction of the suspension to five years. In addition, his fine of 50,000 Swiss francs was cancelled.
3. Sunday Oliseh
Sunday Ogochukwu Oliseh may have had a brief stint as the Super Eagles head coach, but he left an impressive record despite the controversies surrounding his stay. Oliseh was one of the best players in the Super Eagles during his playing days and captained the team to win the historic gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, USA.
Regarded as one of Africa’s best defensive midfielders, Oliseh is best remembered for an explosive shot from 25 yards, scoring the winning goal for Nigeria against Spain in the 1998 World Cup group stage. He played for Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Belgian top club K.R.C. Genk during his playing days.
Oliseh began his managerial career in Belgium with youth teams in the Belgian 3rd Division Verviers. In 2015, he was announced as the Super Eagles’ head coach two weeks after Stephen Keshi was sacked. His appointment got mixed feelings from both football experts and fans in Nigeria. While hailed as the best choice for Nigeria after Keshi, others believed his famous temperament was unsuitable for the Super Eagles job.
Despite the mixed feelings, Oliseh had a decent record with the Super Eagles. Shortly after his appointment, he declared that he would not consider any player who does not play in the elite division in any country. He had impressive statistics of two losses, 19 goals scored and six goals conceded in 14 matches. Also, Oliseh qualified Nigeria for the CHAN tournament in Rwanda and the Group phase of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
However, he resigned as the Super Eagles coach on February 26, 2016, a month to the team’s encounter with the Pharaohs of Egypt in the AFCON qualifiers. He left due to contract violations, lack of support, unpaid wages and benefits to his players, assistant coaches and himself. He barely spent eight months as the Super Eagles’ indigenous manager.
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2. Shuaibu Amodu
Shuaibu Amodu was a Nigerian professional footballer and manager. He played as a forward for Dumez and Niger Tornadoes before prematurely ending his career due to a broken leg.
Amodu began his managerial career in Nigerian clubs such as BCC Lions, El-Kanemi Warriors and Shooting Stars and even managed the Orlando Pirates in South Africa. He was appointed Super Eagles head coach in 2001 but was sacked in 2002 after qualifying the team for the World Cup tournament. Amodu stated his sacking was unfair, and a month later, he revealed he had not received a formal letter confirming his dismissal. He was reinstated as the Super Eagles coach in April 2008 but was sacked again in February 2010 after qualifying the Nigerian senior team for the World Cup in South Africa.
Amodu was later appointed technical director of Nigeria’s national teams in May 2013 and reappointed as the head coach following Stephen Keshi’s dismissal in 2014. He stepped down after Keshi was reappointed but replaced him again in 2015 on a temporary basis before Oliseh was given the permanent role as Super Eagles head coach.
Amodu died on June 10, 2016, three days after Stephen Keshi’s death.
1. Stephen Keshi
Stephen Okechukwu Keshi isn’t just one of Nigeria’s best players ever; he’s also the best indigenous Super Eagles coach. With 60 caps, he was the second-most capped player at the time of his retirement. He was also part of the squad representing the country at the 1994 World Cup and captained Team Nigeria to win the 1994 AFCON.
Keshi began his managerial career as part of the national coaching team before becoming the Junior Eagles head coach in 2001. However, his managerial success began when he was appointed the head coach of the Super Eagles in 2011. He led the senior team to their third AFCON title in 2013 after beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the finals. Keshi became the first to win the AFCON as a player and coach.
In addition, Keshi qualified Nigeria for the 2014 World Cup. He is the only African coach to have guided two separate African nations (Togo, 2005 and Nigeria, 2014) to the World Cup. This, in addition to winning AFCON, makes him the best indigenous coach of the Super Eagles.
Unfortunately, Keshi died of cardiac arrest on June 7, 2016, at the age of 54.
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