Was it a sheer coincidence? Former Nigeria’s coaches, Stephen Keshi and Amodu died one after the other and in the same city, Benin four years ago.
It was on this date, 10 June 2016, as the nation was still griping with the passage of Stephen Keshi, then came another deadly blow as another former national football team coach, Amodu Shaibu was pronounced dead.
For some days, both shared the same morgue in Benin. Both had worked together with Bonfrere Johannes as assistants in guiding the Super Eagles to the final of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations before taking over midway in the qualification series for the 2002 World Cup.
Sadly both Keshi and Shaibu worked together as national team coaches, guiding Nigeria to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, only to be dropped.
That was an attribute they both shared as Keshi later qualified Togo to the 2006 World Cup and suffered the same cruel fate.
Shaibu qualified the Super Eagles and was also dropped from guiding the team at the final tournament.
Added to the cruel fate he suffered was the fact that Shaibu also qualified Nigeria to the Beach Soccer World Cup in Brazil, but was unable to take the team to the tournament.
Like Keshi who died three days before him, Shaibu also died in Benin. He was a recurring decimal in the technical crew of the Super Eagles having been appointed a record five times.
He got into prominence when in 1989, he guided BCC Lions to break a 36-year jinx that afflicted Northern Nigerian teams at the then national cup, the Challenge Cup.
His BCC Lions against formbooks, beat the rave of the moment, Iwuanyanwu Nationale to win the cup. It was the first time since Kano’s victory of 1953.
In achieving the feat at age 29, Shaibu became the youngest coach to win the Challenge Cup.
There is more as his feats were beyond the Challenge Cup. He led BCC Lions to win the Africa Winners’ Cup in 1990 and getting the runners-up position in 1991 before leading the club to become Nigeria’s double champions in 1994.
That easily put him in front as an immediate successor to Clemens Westerhof in the national team in 1994.
AMODU’S FACT-FILE AS A COACH
*2002 World Cup Qualification
*2010 World Cup Qualification
*2006 FIFA Beach WC Qualification
*2002 ANC Bronze
*2010 ANC Bronze
*4 FA Cups
1989 : BCC Lions (Gboko) 1-0 Iwuanyanwu Nationale (Owerri)
1992 : El-Kanemi Warriors (Maiduguri) 1-0 Stationery Stores (Lagos)
1993 : BCC Lions (Gboko) 1-0 Plateau United (Jos)
1994 : BCC Lions (Gboko) 1-0 Julius Berger (Lagos)
1994 : BBC Lions (Gboko)
*Cup Winners Cup
1990 : BCC Lions (Gboko) 3-0, 1-1 Club Africain, Tunisia
– Mr Solaja is the most capped Nigerian sports journalist having attended all the FIFA World Cups since 1990. He’s the publisher of SportsVillageSquare online newspaper