Nigeria need a ruthless manager to mastermind a turnaround in the fortunes of the Super Eagles as they target a spot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, says Isaac Semitoje.
Three-time African champions Nigeria face an uphill task to qualify for the Russia 2018 finals after being drawn against their eternal rivals Cameroon, Africa’s top ranked team Algeria and Zambia in the World Cup qualifying Group B.
The leaders of the group being dubbed the Group of Death will book their ticket to the World Cup alongside other four teams who emerge as winners of their groups at the end of the qualifiers on November 6, 2017.
Managerless Nigeria open their Russia 2018 qualifying campaign away to Zambia’s Chipolopolo on October 3 – and host Algeria, who defeated them 1-0 in the final of Algiers ’90 to win their only African title, on November 7.
And Tunisia ’94 Africa Cup of Nations winner Semitoje, who is worried about the Super Eagles’ qualification chances after they failed to qualify for two successive continental finals (Equatorial Guinea 2015 and Gabon 2017), insists the team need a manager who could turn the players into winners.
Although the ex-Eagles defender is not against the Nigeria Football Federation’s decision to ditch the Eagles’ caretaker manager Salisu Yusuf for the services of a foreign coach, he maintains it’s not the only solution to the problems of the national team.
“Getting a foreign coach is not the problem of the national,” the former Iwuanyanwu Nationale captain said from his base in Denmark during the week.
“But, if they (NFF) insist on employing a foreign coach, they should go for a top-class coach.
“He must be ready to pick the right players without being influenced by external forces.”
Semitoje added, “What the Eagles really need to qualify for the World Cup is for the coach – foreign or homegrown – to invite players who are committed.
“We need players who understand what the World Cup means and what the country stand to gain by playing in the tournament (for the sixth time).
“We don’t need players who just want wear the national colours or count the number of times they have played for the national team.
“The coach must be ready to snub such players and invite those who are ready to die on the field to ensure our World Cup qualification. The coach we need now is a man who will allow anybody force players on him. He must be a ruthless manager.
“Players must be selected on merit and we should we shouldn’t put the coach under pressure to play or invite certain players.”
The Algiers ’90 Africa Cup of Nations silver medallist, who lamented the declining fortunes of Nigerian football, called for the NFF to restore public confidence in the domestic league.