Sunday Oliseh can be another Westerhof – Taribo

Former Nigeria defender Taribo West has tipped the new Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh to follow in the footsteps of Dutchman Clemens Westerhof.

The former AC Milan centre-back, who dismissed concerns about Oliseh’s capability, threw his weight behind the Nigeria Football Federation’s decision to replace Stephen Keshi, who was sacked on July 5, with his former Eagles’ teammate. Westerhof guided Nigeria to their second Africa Cup of Nations title at Tunisia ’94 and helped the team to the second round of the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

Oliseh played in both tournaments.
Taribo said, “I think Oliseh will follow in Westerhof’s footsteps. Which experience did the Dutchman have before he came to Nigeria? But he is hailed as Nigeria’s best coach today. I think inexperience shouldn’t be used as a yardstick to judge the new coach.

“In his playing days, Oliseh was a player with character. He had the quality and I feel this will rub off on his players. Sabri Lamouchi was Ivory Coast’s coach at last year’s World Cup. He was my teammate in France. He was employed by the Ivorians without experience. So, we should give Oliseh a chance. Westerhof and Bonfrere Jo succeeded because they had vision.”
Taribo, who urged the new coach to instil discipline in the Eagles, expressed doubts about the calibre of players Oliseh said would make his team.

The former Eagles captain hinted at his unveiling in Abuja on July 15 that only players in top divisions would be considered for invitation to the national team, but Taribo wants Oliseh to reconsider his decision because of the dearth of Nigerian players in topflight leagues.
The former France-based defender said, “I think Oliseh needs to give his camp rules and ensure the players follow them. His relationship with the players is very important. Playing on the pitch is not the only issue. How to manage the players matters too.”

He added, “On the issue of only top division footballers playing for the national team, I think he was just telling the players to do better. But we do not have many players playing regularly in first divisions in Europe.

“I think Oliseh will reconsider his decision later. If we have a Nigerian playing and doing well in the second division, it will be unwise to drop such a player for another who is not regular in his first division club.

“If second division players can add value to the team, then let them come in. We need every Nigerian player now. If you are qualified for the national team, then you should be given a chance. The national team should be a level playing field for every player to prove himself.”
On Oliseh’s choice of a foreigner as technical assistant, Taribo said, “I don’t have problems with him coming with a white man. When you live in Europe for a very long time, your mentality becomes different from what we have here. And as such, you will want to bring people who know the job over there to assist you. What we need is result, and if the white man will help Oliseh get results, it’s okay.”  
Credit: Tana Aiyejina/Punch Sport