Giant on the move
Should African coaches get more of a look in?
But perhaps a bit of African improvisation would not be such a bad thing.
Nigeria went on to reach the final of the tournament, beating old rivals the Ivory Coast and then thrashing Belgium 4-1 before coming unstuck against Argentina. Their semi-final performance against Belgium mixed moments of sublime skill with reckless defending and woeful, shoddy finishing. But the scoreline speaks for itself.
In the last few years, African players have emigrated en masse to Europe and their national teams have hired European coaches. A small group of these trainers now seem to have the main national sides sewn up, moving around in an endless game of musical coaches.
Four of the five African representatives at the last World Cup were coached by Europeans.
The European influence has certainly instilled discipline and professionalism. But the exuberance which African teams were expected to bring when Cameroon burst on to the scene in 1990 seems to have gone missing while results have been disappointing, with quarter-final places for Cameroon and Ivory Coast the best the continent could manage.
Under Siasia, Nigeria have returned to a more carefree and entertaining style, even if there have been some slapstick moments thrown in.
“Nigerian coaches have done well, like the one we’ve got now,” said striker Victor Anichebe. “He got us to the (World under-20) final against Argentina in 2005, and he’s got to the final again.”
“The senior side have a Nigerian coach and in the summer we won four games out of four. Hopefully, they will get more of a chance.”
Perhaps Nigeria, and other African teams, should give home-grown coaches more of a look-in.
PHOTO: Peter Odemwingie of Nigeria (L) shoots past Pablo Zabaleta of Argentina during the men’s gold medal soccer match at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 23, 2008. REUTERS/Claro Cortes