*Le Guen, le Roy, Wotte have applied
*Westerhof & Bonfrere pulling strings
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
As at the last count at the weekend, no fewer than five European coaches have signified their intentions to replace Sunday Oliseh as Super Eagles’ managers. Two of the coaches are bidding to return to the post they left previously.
Two French nationals, Paul le Guen and Claude le Roy, and a Dutch, Mark Wotte, THISDAY learnt at the weekend, have already submitted their resumes at the Glass House. Though both Clemence Westerhof and Jo Bonfrere are yet to file in their applications, authoritative sources at the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) secretariat in Abuja hinted that the Dutchmen have made contacts with the federation.
Oliseh walked away from the senior Nigerian national team shortly after returning from the 2016 African Nations Championships (CHAN) in Rwanda where the home-based Eagles failed to progress beyond the group stage.
The former Nigerian captain, who is scheduled to meet with the House of Representatives Committee on Sports on Thursday in Abuja, cited poor working conditions as reasons for quitting his job.
Although the NFF is yet to advertise the post presently occupied in caretaker capacity by the Olympic Eagles coach, Samson Siasia, it is generally believed that the federation does not want to rock the boat until after the two-legged AFCON 2017 qualifier against Egypt later this month.
“I am very much aware that between three and five European coaches have applied for the Eagles’ job. I don’t think the NFF leadership will want to discuss with any of them now that Siasia is preparing the team to take on the Pharaohs of Egypt between March 25 and 29,” stressed the top football official at the weekend.
Further checks by THISDAY revealed that the NFF leadership is disposed to hiring a foreign coach for the Eagles because of its past experience with both Stephen Keshi and Oliseh.
“All Nigerians have now seen that those we consider our best do not have the character expected of a national team coach. Yes, they may be good coaches in their own right but handling a national team like Nigeria goes beyond what you see on the field. Only very good managers of men can succeed in our peculiar environment, that I believe is why they are considering a European coach,” our source revealed.
Le Guen, 52, had a successful managerial career in France, most notably leading Olympic Lyon to three consecutive Ligue 1 titles. He also coached at Stade Rennais, PSG, Glasgow Rangers and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun. His biggest impact in Yaounde was leading the Lions to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He was sacked on November 19, 2015 due to Cameroun’s poor start of the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign
Le Roy, 68, is a familiar face in the African continent having had stints in Ghana, Senegal, Congo and Cameroun. His greatest achievements in the continent include leading Cameroun to a runner-up position in the 1986 AFCON and followed up with the title two years later at Maroc ’88.
Dutchman Wotte, 55, has managed teams in the Netherlands, Egypt, Qatar, England and Romania, and has also worked for the Scottish Football Association. He has a position with the Morocco federation in charge of their Under-20 team. He has the mandate to qualify the team for the 2017 and 2019 Under-20 AFCON.
The likes of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt flourished under Wotte’s watch when he was in charge of The Netherlands’ U19s and 21s between 2000 and 2002.
Both Westerhof and Bonfrere need no introduction to Nigerians. The generation fondly referred to as Nigeria’s golden era that included the likes of Austin Okocha, Oliseh, Siasia, Nwankwo Kanu etc evolved under Westerhof between 1989 and 1994 with Bonfrere as his assistant. Bonfrere used almost the same set of players to win Africa’s first Olympic gold medal at Atlanta ’96.