When The Records Are Offside

In my initial piece, “The foreign coach distraction” (The Guardian, Monday, November 30, 2009), I made a case for the sanctity and helpfulness of making assessments of and comparisons between local and foreign coaches in Nigeria on a level playing field. I did not and still do not need to consult the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English to recognise the fatal insincerity in making dubious excuses for the foreign coach when he fails and seeing nothing good in the local coach even when he succeeds.


I had the unfortunate opportunity of reading in one of our national newspapers recently that a journalist(!) even went as incredibly amusing as excusing the monumental failure of Berti Voghts (in Nigeria, that is) on the premise that if he had achieved anything meaningful in Ghana 2008, Ghanaians would have attacked Nigerians! Perhaps, if local coach Austine Eguavoen had attempted anything better than his more successful bronze medal show at Egypt 2006, Egyptians would have declared a full-scale war against Nigeria with the support of the United States and Britain.

There was nothing derogatory in my reference to some “records” being flaunted by Mayowa to make his own alarmingly unspeakable excuses for the foreign coach as elementary school information. For example, every three-year-old kid in that Ajegunle kindergarten school knows Abuja is the capital of Nigeria. Yet this piece of information can be found in my brother’s cherished Wikipedia and occupies some space somewhere on some websites on the net.

In the same vein, in the context of the main thrust of my initial article, which centred on the report cards of local and foreign coaches in Nigeria (repeat, in Nigeria), those records are clearly offside which are all about the jaw-breaking names of certain foreign coaches who led Cameroun or East Timor to whatever competition. All local and foreign coaches I mentioned in making comparisons in my initial article were those who have worked with the Nigerian national team.

I sincerely congratulate Mayowa on his rich reservoir of information concerning the records, including, probably, his extra-ordinary ability to recall the strange-sounding name of the foreign coach who led Vanuatu to a friendly against Fiji Island in February, 1926. How I wish I was so immensely talented. But back to the issue, about which I have been consistent: the assessments and comparisons between local and foreign coaches in Nigeria against the backdrop of crucial factors such as the general conditions in which they have operated, the length of time given each to perform and the results achieved, should realistically be carried out on a level playing field.

And on this field, in Nigeria, within, say the last two decades and half, the local coach has fared better… Final whistle! I rest my pen.

*Dele Akinola,


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