‘Big slap to 180 million Nigerians’ says Ben Alaiya about Sunday Oliseh’s resignation as Nigeria coach

Oliseh announced he quit as coach of Nigeria on Friday and accused the national federation of “contract violations” including failing to pay him his wages. Oliseh said on Twitter he was resigning because of a “lack of support”.

Sunday Oliseh announced he quit as coach of Nigeria on Friday and accused the national federation of “contract violations” including failing to pay him his wages. Agnecy
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ABUJA, Nigeria // Sunday Oliseh announced he quit as coach of Nigeria on Friday and accused the national federation of “contract violations” including failing to pay him his wages.

Oliseh said on his official Twitter account he was resigning because of a “lack of support” from his bosses.

The federation failed to pay him wages and provide promised benefits for players and his assistant coaches, he wrote, adding: “I resign as Super Eagles chief coach.”

Oliseh’s predecessor, Stephen Keshi, complained of similar problems when he was in charge of the national team. Oliseh took over in July last year after Keshi was fired for what the Nigerian Football Federation called breach of contract for applying to be the Ivory Coast coach.

Keshi’s time with Nigeria was also marked with disputes with the federation over unpaid wages, among other problems.

Oliseh stirred controversy recently when he lashed out at critics of his team’s performances in videos he posted on social media. Following Nigeria’s failure to progress past the group stage of the African Nations Championship in Rwanda, Oliseh called the criticism of him and the team “insanity.” He said some were intentionally undermining him.

He was rebuked by the federation and forced to apologize for the video posts, and was called to a meeting with federation officials on Friday to explain his plans for the team.

Oliseh, a former Nigeria midfielder and captain, was a surprise choice as head coach given his lack of experience in management. However, he had a good record in the seven months he was in charge.

He departs with Nigeria facing two important African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Egypt next month. The federation did not immediately comment on Oliseh’s resignation announcement.

With Oliseh’s resignation, Nigeria face an uphill battle to defend the title they won in 2013 in South Africa and after failing to qualify for last year’s finals.

Egypt head Group G with six points after two matches, with the Super Eagles second on four points. Only the overall group winners are guaranteed automatic qualification to the 2017 finals in Gabon.

Former national team official Ben Alaiya said 41-year-old Oliseh’s resignation has further compromised the country’s chances of getting through.

“It’s a shock. He should not have quit, it was like abandoning the ship in the middle of the sea. It was a big slap to 180 million Nigerians,” he said.

“But we must move ahead and look at the options because we have very important games against Egypt next month.”

Former Nigeria international Dosu Joseph said the NFF must move quickly to appoint a successor to stay on track for Gabon 2017.

“Many of us saw this coming but we now need to move forward because we have beat Egypt at least at home or else kiss goodbye to the Nations Cup,” he warned.

“The NFF must now sit up for the matches against Egypt because it will be a disaster if we failed again to qualify for the Nations Cup.”

Oliseh has had a tense relationship with the NFF since Nigeria failed to go past the group stage of the recent African Nations Championships in Rwanda.

He vented his frustration in a YouTube video earlier this month, attacking critics who wanted him sacked, but later apologised, while sports minister Solomon Dalgun backed him to stay on.

Former Nigeria coaches Shaibu Amodu and Samson Siasia are the early front-runners as caretaker coaches before a substantive coach is named.

The experienced Amodu has handled the Super Eagles before, securing qualification to the 2002 and 2014 World Cups. He is currently the NFF technical director.

Siasia served a short stint as national team coach between 2010 and 2011. He was sacked after Nigeria failed to reach the 2012 Nations Cup finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Emmanuel Amuneke, who has been promoted to the Under-20 national team after he led the Golden Eaglets to a fifth FIFA U17 World Cup in November, could also be considered.

But it is expected Salisu Yusuf, who has assisted Oliseh, will stay on to be a link between the coach and the team his former boss was trying to build before he threw in the towel.

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