Former Nigeria captain Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha has warned against using the performance of the B Team at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) to judge coach Sunday Oliseh’s ability.
The CHAN, a tournament for players based in their country’s domestic league, kicks off this weekend in Rwanda with Nigeria chasing a first title after finishing in third place in their tournament debut two years ago.
There’s pressure on coach Oliseh in his first full tournament in charge of the national team which he took charge of in July 2015 and his former team mate believes it is not yet time to scrutinize the trainer.
“Well, I can’t set any target for the Super Eagles and coach Sunday Oliseh as far as the African Nations Championship is concerned,” Okocha said..
“Oliseh is my friend and he is my colleague. I think he’s got all it takes to get us back on track. We don’t have to use the CHAN to judge him. We just need to encourage and support him and let him do his thing.
“Hopefully he is the right person to take us to where we want.”
Nigeria’s fortunes have plundered in recent times as they have fallen down the ladder on the international index.
Yet Okocha, winner of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 when the national team was ranked as high as fifth in the world, feels that it is just a bad patch.
“I have no fears as regards the Super Eagles’ position as 66th best in the world and 14th best in Africa because big countries and big teams go through difficult periods,” he said.
“Honestly speaking, we are going through rough periods but there is nothing to be ashamed of. We just need to work hard to be back to where we rightly belong.
“It is a challenge because our results recently have been poor. We just need to accept it and fight our way back to the top.”
After the CHAN tournament, Nigeria will return to their hunt for a ticket to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) against Egypt.
“As regards the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, I believe that the Super Eagles can qualify but we have to do our homework well to achieve this. We have to accept first of all that we are no longer who we used to be.
We have to humble ourselves and realize that we are starting afresh. Once we accept our fate at the moment I think we will qualify,” Okocha said.
“As regards the way forward for the Super Eagles and Nigeria football, the way forward is to accept our fate like I said, to humble ourselves and to realize the fact that things are no longer the way they used to be. Once we accept that I think that it would be a great beginning for us,” he concluded.