Five talking points from Oliseh’s debut as Super Eagles coach

Sunday Oliseh

By Toby Prince

OlisehSunday Oliseh began his reign as Nigeria national team coach in a so-so manner, picking up a point away from home against Tanzania on Saturday.

The tactician stood in front of the Taifa Stars quest for a first victory in 2015 as they hope to make it to the Africa Cup Nations for the first time in 35 years.

With almost the same pool of players used by his predecessor, Stephen Keshi, Oliseh’s Eagles showed some promises despite the little time they had to understand the tactics and philosophy of the new boss.

Here are the five things we learned from the gaffer’s first 90 minutes in the Nigeria dugout.

  1. Oliseh is a modern day coach

Football has now evolved from merely being a sport to a way of life. Footballers as well as coaches are not left out of the transition as they now embrace modern trends and methods.

Oliseh showed to the world against Tanzania that in him is a coach who moves along with time and changes. The ex-skipper was smartly dressed in a pair of jeans and a well tailored black jacket, showing his modern dress sense and youthfulness. The coach also exhibited that he wasn’t afraid of experiments when he substituted Haruna Lukman with just 35 minutes played in the game.

  1. Lukman isn’t grown yet

Haruna Lukman showed so much promise during his early days, but with a performance like he had against Tanzania, it won’t be a surprise to many why he is yet to fulfil his potential. At 25, Lukman has represented Nigeria at all cadres and even made the senior squad to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.  Saturday was a return to forget for the FC Anzhi Makachkhala man who looked clueless and helpless on and off the ball. His frustration was highlighted by an early substitution in the first half, with the coach bringing in Sylvester Igboun in his place. The player is yet to prove to the world that he has now stepped up from that school boy we used to know, to a man ready to make good out of his career.

  1. Carl Ikeme may be to Vincent Enyeama what Thibaut Courtois was to Petr Cech at Chelsea

One positive from Nigeria’s average showing against Tanzania was Wolverhampton Wanderers keeper, Carl Ikeme who stepped in perfectly for number 1 stopper, Vincent Enyeama. The 29-year-old justified his invitation by putting up a man of the match performance which made the score look pleasant to the eyes. No wonder coach Sunday Oliseh singled out the former QPR goalie for praise after an impressive debut for Nigeria. “I don’t like to single out players from the team but I have to admit that Carl Ikeme had a great game for us today,” Oliseh conceded. Enyeama is still world class, but with his international future still complicated, Nigerians can now be rest assured that a quality deputy and possible successor may have emerged for the long-serving Lille man. Does this remind anybody of the goalkeeping situation at Chelsea last season?

  1. Tanzania are no pushovers

Tanzania, ranked 136th in the world, gave a good account of themselves against three-time African champions, Nigeria. The Taifa Stars recovered from a humiliating 3-0 loss to Egypt in Cairo to wrestle the Super Eagles who looked disjointed for most parts of the game. No one would have expected such an intimidating performance from the East Africans, but nowadays there are no minnows in the round leather game anymore. Credit must go to interim coach, Charles Mkwasa, who set up his side to attack with so much pace and defend as a unit.

  1. Load of work for Oliseh

It was not an all-round awful showing by Nigeria as a couple of the Eagles showed some promise and dedication but more still needs to be done.  Oliseh admitted after the game to his side’s poor display and believed the team will improve with time. “We were disorganised in the first half but fared better in the second. In the second half we organised ourselves better but lacked that quality supply from midfield to attack. We will get better. “We have to continue to build. We barely had two good days of training before this match so I am happy with the one point,” he said.