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NFF told me not to invite Enyeama, Mikel, Emenike – Oliseh

NFF told me not to invite Enyeama, Mikel, Emenike – Oliseh

Nigerian legend and former coach, Sunday Oliseh, has revealed the challenges he faced as head coach of the Nigerian national team, shedding light on his tenure’s difficulties. 

During his time from July 2015 to February 2016, Oliseh said that despite winning four out of 14 games, including a loss to Congo in Belgium, he encountered significant obstacles. 

These included not being paid for four months, with his assistants enduring six months without payment. Moreover, when he fell ill, he received no support from the Nigeria Football Federation, forcing him to cover his medical expenses.

“After being unpaid for four months, and my assistants being unpaid for six months and after me falling sick and not getting any support, spending thousands of dollars to cure myself. 

“I resigned because I didn’t get support,” Oliseh told Elegbete TV.

“When I left the job, Nigeria was still on track to qualify for the 2017 Nations Cup. Nigeria needed to beat Egypt and qualify.”

Oliseh also said that the Nigeria Football Federation instructed him not to invite the trio Vincent Enyeama, Mikel Obi and Emmanuel Emenike due to reported issues under the previous coach, late Stephen Keshi.

Despite this directive, Oliseh sought to engage with these players to align with his coaching philosophy. 

He personally visited Enyeama, driving over 200km to spend a day explaining his vision. However, issues arose, such as Enyeama missing a crucial match due to his mother’s burial plans, which were communicated late.

Oliseh in action for Nigeria

Efforts to contact Mikel were unsuccessful, with the player not responding to messages or calls. 

He revealed that he traveled to London with his assistant to meet Mikel and Victor Moses, but Mikel did not attend the scheduled meeting, whereas Moses did.

“They had asked me not to invite the players anymore to the Super Eagles,” Oliseh told Elegbete TV.

“I begged them (the NFF) to give me the opportunity to talk to them. Let me share my philosophy with them and let’s see how it goes.

“When this happened, I called the captain of the team, Enyeama. I drove almost 200km to his place with my assistant, took him out to lunch, watched him train, spent a day with my captain and explained the philosophy to him.

“I sent messages to Mikel Obi, but he never answered my call. He never called me back. He totally ignored me and played with a big ego.

“I went to London with my assistant to speak with Mikel and Victor Moses.

“I gave them an appointment at the hotel, two teammates from the same club. Moses came to the meeting, the other one refused to come.

He also recounted the issues he encountered with Enyeama just before his first game against Tanzania.

“We were playing on Friday, everybody came into camp, but on Wednesday, Enyeama was not there.

“He informed us on Wednesday evening that he was not going to come because he was going to bury his mother who died three months ago,” Oliseh said.

“I coached the Eagles for 14 games, won four, and we lost only two games. One was a friendly against DR Congo in Belgium.

Oliseh also expressed regret over Emmanuel Emenike’s decision to retire from international football.

“Before I go further, the biggest regret I had with the Eagles was when Emenike called and said I am retiring as a national team player,” he said.

“Working with Emenike was the best thing I had as Super Eagles coach.

“He was a great and nice guy. He was against what the NFF had told me about him.”

Oliseh further named Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman and Bayer Leverkusen striker Victor Boniface as the two best players in the current Super Eagles squad. 

“Coming to the Eagles there’s something I would like to add. There are two players that we have now in my opinion are the best players we have at the moment, looking at the past season,” Oliseh said.

“I’m looking at Lookman and one that might surprise you and I find him extraordinarily good. His name is Victor Boniface.

“I watch this guy every week because he’s playing just 45 minutes drive from my house at Leverkusen, so I had the opportunity to watch him play so many times.

“He’s a player who can do it all. He’s a player that can play with his back to goal, he’s a player one on one you are in trouble, he’s a player that has pace, he is aerially strong and he carries the team with him.

“If he’s injured often, it is because the Bundesliga is one of the most demanding leagues in the world, physically not only technically.

“When I see players like that, it makes me optimistic for the Super Eagles because you can build teams around those players.”

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