Amodu, Keshi, Prophets Without Honour

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Just as Nigerians were trying to put behind them the rude shock of the death of former Super Eagles Coach Stephen Keshi, the football world woke up last Saturday morning to the news that four-time national team coach Shuaibu Amodu was dead, three days after the death of Keshi. But  must the Nigeria Football Federation wait until their death to honour them? Kunle  Adewale reports

When the immediate past Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh announced his resignation, citing contract violations, lack of support and unpaid wages, as reason for leaving many were quick to discard his claims, saying that even while he was a player, his coaches were owed and “why does he think things would change in his time.”

But the death of Shuaibu Amodu has lent credence to the fact that  NFF is not living up to its responsibilities. Probably, if his salaries were paid as and when due, he might  be alive today.

As the federation’s technical director, Amodu was reportedly on N800, 000 per month but without an office and official accommodation.

According to his brother, Akuri Afegbua, the former Eagles coach died after complaints of chest pain and his inability to get the money NFF owed him, adding that his financial status had made it difficult for him to take care of himself and his immediate family.

 “I think he died of frustration due to his financial status. He was not paid. He was complaining of not being paid and had no money to maintain himself and his immediate family,” the cousin said.

NFF general secretary Muhammed Sanusi said the football authority would forever be grateful to Amodu for his amazing service to Nigerian and African football.

“He lived for his family and football, Amodu gave his heart and soul to Nigerian football and we can never thank him enough,” Sanusi told BBC Sport.

The late NFF technical director first took charge of Nigeria at the age of 36, coached the Super Eagles on four different occasions.

He helped the country to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and led them to a third-place finish in the 2002 Nations Cup.

Under his stewardship, Nigeria qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but Amodu was sacked despite the team’s third-place finish at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

It was the second time he had been removed from his post ahead of a World Cup finals tournament. Amodu was first fired ahead of the 2002 edition after Nigeria finished third at the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali.

Amodu, who began his coaching career with BCC Lions of Gboko and also handled rivals El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, is the most decorated coach in Nigerian FA Cup history, having won it in 1989, 1992, 1993 and 1994. He won the Nigeria League and Cup double in 1994, and won the Super Cup in 1989, 1993 and 1994. He also managed South African giants, Orlando Pirates between 1996 and 1997.

An NFF statement said: “Amodu’s name was synonymous with the Super Eagles. You can’t talk about the history of Super Eagles without Amodu getting prominent chapters. As Technical Director he was known to be hypertensive, and had rejected taking over the Super Eagles coaching job in February on this ground.”

Amodu qualified the Super Eagles for the FIFA World Cup in 2002 and 2010, but did not lead the team to the finals. He also qualified the Beach Soccer National Team for the 2006 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, but did not lead the team at the finals as he refused to travel to Brazil.

Amodu first shot to prominence when he guided BCC Lions to win the now-defunct African Cup Winners Cup in 1990. His team reached the final of the same competition the following year but lost to Zambian side Power Dynamos 5-4 on aggregate.

Three years later, Amodu replaced Dutchman Clemens Westerhof as Super Eagles coach in 1994 and then led the reigning African Champions to fourth place at the 1995 King Fahd Cup (now renamed Fifa Confederations Cup) before his exit later that year. He returned to manage the team again from 1998-99, 2001-02 and 2008-2010.

South African club, Orlando Pirates did not forget Amodu’s time with them as the club had expressed its sadness at the passing of their former coach.

They released a statement on their website, which reads:

“Orlando Pirates management and the extended Bucs family would like to extend its heartfelt condolences to the family of Shaibu Amodu who has passed away. Though from Nigeria, Amodu is no stranger to South Africa having been an assistant coach and then a head coach of the Mighty Buccaneers in the late 90s.

“We convey our heartfelt and deepest sympathy to the Amodu family and pledge our profound moral support. We supplicate that God gives you fortitude at this moment of your extreme grief and pain.”

In the same vein ,World football governing body, Fifa, has symphathised with Nigeria following the passing away of the country’s technical director, Shuaibu Amodu.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino hopes that the condolence message on the passing on of Amodu will offer the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) “a little bit of peace and solace in this time of sadness.”

“Please accept my deepest condolences on hearing that the former coach of the Super Eagles and national technical director, Shaibu Amodu, has passed away, just a few days after the death of Stephen Keshi.

“On behalf of the international football community, please allow me to extend my sincerest condolences to the football community of Nigeria and, most of all, Amodu’s family, friends and loved ones. We hope that, in some way, our words of support may help bring a little bit of peace and solace in this time of sadness,” Infantino stated in the condolence letter from Fifa to the NFF this week.

Meanwhile, the NFF has confirmed the well circulated information that the federation owed the coach his salaries, Sanusi was quoted on the federation’s social media saying that “the federation is owing Amodu salaries for two months. He also added that “every member of NFF management is being owed salaries for two months like Amodu.” He promised that the NFF would pay all monies due late Amodu to his family.

In his encomium to Amodu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said that the life of the late coach was dedicated to finding and grooming Nigeria’s best soccer talents while providing them the guidance with which they excelled.

Osinbajo described the demise of Amodu as a profound loss to the nation.

The vice president said coming only four days after the death of former player and coach, Stephen Keshi, Nigeria had lost yet another dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly to bring honour to the country.

“He led the national team to two World Cup tournaments and answered the call to serve as National Coach on a number of occasions. Indeed his life was dedicated to finding and grooming Nigeria’s best soccer talents and providing them the leadership and guidance with which they excelled,’’ he said.

According to him, Amodu’s work as coach of Nigeria’s national team brought gladness to the nation and fulfillment to many.

“His legacy is secured in the memories of Nigerians who will forever recall the exploits his teams recorded across the African continent and around the world. His dutiful service spanned many years and our country is grateful for his selflessness and immense contributions,’’ he said.

The vice president acknowledged that although the nation was pained at his death, it would take solace in the joyful memories he left behind.

He expressed the sincere condolences of the people and government of Nigeria to the family of Amodu on the loss.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We pray for God’s consolation,’’ he added.

Indeed, the House of Representatives  had on Tuesday passed a motion urging the Federal Government to immortalise the late football icons, Stephen Keshi and Amodu Shuaibu, for their services to the nation.

The House also mandated its committee on Sports to liaise with the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, to ensure the immediate payment of the entitlements due to families late Messrs. Keshi and Shuaibu.

The decision, according to the lawmakers, would encourage other Nigerians to give their best to the development of the country.

The resolutions were adopted following a motion on matters of urgent public importance sponsored by Samuel Onuigbo.

While describing the death of the two sports icons as a “huge loss to the country and their families”, Mr. Onuigbo said that Keshi and Shuaibu served Nigeria meritoriously.

He expressed disappointment that the late Shuaibu was owed arrears of salaries and entitlements by the Federal Government and the Edo State Government.

“These iconic Nigerians exercised leadership in football administration and impacted positively on the nation and on the world in ways that their outstanding accomplishment brought happiness to Nigerians,” Mr. Onuigbo said.

“These icons died at a time that football in the country is taking a nosedive.”