In the twilight of his successful football career, Sunday Oliseh became a polarising figure. Talk about the midfielder shifted from his football to his fiery temper.
He missed the 2002 World Cup due to disciplinary actions and was sent packing by Borrusia Dortmund for punching a teammate two years later.
His appointment as Super Eagles Head Coach in July 2015 split opinions. Some questioned his experience as a coach despite his UEFA Pro License; others were worried about his temper.
His time as Super Eagles boss would end up being dotted by avoidable controversies. Outbursts of emotion led more people to question his ability to turn the fortunes of the Super Eagles around and he lost the needed support to lead the team to glory.
Here are the top controversial decisions of his short reign as Super Eagles boss:
Leaving Ighalo, Mikel and Moses out
Oliseh’s first task was to assemble a team for Nigeria’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Tanzania. The Eagles had struggled to beat Chad 2-0 at home in their first match of the series — under Stephen Keshi – and expectations were high ahead of the Dar es Salam clash.
The new coach’s list of 18 overseas-based players for the match, played on September 5, 2015, was missing three top players – Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses and Mikel Obi.
“Let’s not start with controversies, we can only play 11 players, we have two strikers now and we’ll call in everybody eventually,” Oliseh said. “We have no choice but to hit the ground running, let’s just hope that we get the best result.”
It was early days and his explanation sufficed.
Stripping Vincent Enyeama of captaincy
Three months after his appointment, Oliseh stripped Nigeria’s most capped footballer, Vincent Enyeama, of his captaincy after a dispute with the goalkeeper. He replaced Enyeama with CSKA Moscow forward, Ahmed Musa, who has flattered to deceive. The drama that followed led to Enyeama unceremoniously retiring from the national team.
“I want a captain who is disciplined; a leader who can motivate other players; a player who comes to camp early. I want a young player not a retiring player as captain. And Ahmed Musa is that player. He is my captain,” Oliseh said on Brila FM when asked about the captaincy issue.
“The fact is that I would like to have somebody (as captain) who is thinking of playing now and not somebody who is preparing for retirement or thinking of life after football. And I think it’s time we had peace and quiet around the Super Eagles.”
Emmanuel Emenike’s retirement
After the Super Eagles beat Cameroon 3-0 in a friendly on October 11, Emmanuel Emenike retired from the team in controversial circumstances, alleging that he was threatened.
The West Ham forward wrote on Instagram, “After five great years, I am happy to announce that I have put a full-stop to my national team career for the sake of national peace.
“It’s a pleasure for me to have played for this great country. I never regretted it and I think it’s the best time to end it… Super Eagles is a camp not a family house, and it shouldn’t be a threat zone for any individual.”
The coach? Well, he said he was surprised by Emenike’s decision.
“I have made him a part of our rebuilding process; in fact, he has had more playing time than any striker we have had, so I am very surprised that he has decided to retire,” Oliseh said when asked about Emenike’s decision.
“He is a man. If a man chooses to retire, it should be his decision; if you force him back it could be counterproductive. Be that as it may, I have always said only one thing is irreplaceable and that is Nigeria itself we are all replaceable and that is it.”
First half substitutions
In the match against Tanzania, Oliseh substituted Lukman Haruna after 15 minutes in the first half. The coach cited the player’s disobedience as a reason for the change.
He did the same for AS Trencin midfielder, Rabiu Ibrahim, in the World Cup qualifier against Swaziland in Lobamba, pulling him out after just spending 26 minutes on the pitch as a substitute.
The action drew the ire of fans but the coach explained that the player hid an injury from the doctors, adding that it affected the team’s tactical plan in the match.
Both players have yet to make a return to the Eagles since their last invitation by the coach.
Blaming the NFF for CHAN failure
After the Eagles crashed out of the African Nations Championship, Oliseh blamed the Nigeria Football Federation for the shocking exit.
The Eagles had started brightly and were expected to easily progress from a group with Niger, Guinea and Tunisia. However, after beating Niger 4-1 and playing 1-1 with Tunisia, a 1-0 loss to Guinea saw the Eagles who topped the group going into the final game crash out.
Amid calls for his removal, Oliseh accused the NFF of failing to motivate the players, saying, “Personally, I’m very proud of the boys, they have given a good image of themselves in as much as that we did not go through.
“This is an adult tournament and there are certain things which must be present if you want to go far and win the tournament, and that is what my players see existing in other teams that we don’t have in our team.”
That Youtube rant
Before the NFF was done getting the coach to clarify the comments he made about the Eagles collapse at the CHAN, Oliseh posted a video on Youtube.
It was a response to his critics; it was months of pent-up frustration set free. The critics were insane. Yes, insanity has befallen them, according to him.
“I want to speak on the insanity that has befallen some of our national team critics. I call it insanity because you must be insane to start seeking a plebiscite on the future of the national team coach of Nigeria because we lost the CHAN,” he said.
“The contract is made out. We signed a contract, me and the NFF. If they aren’t happy with the performance, it is okay, we go over it and we shake hands. But I will like to remind you that this is the 14th game I have been in charge of the Super Eagles and we’ve lost only two; and only one official game.”
Well, it backfired with the coach apologising and receiving a N6m fine from the NFF for his ‘efforts’.
Make Money Online in Nigeria... Click HERE To Start Now!