Monday 13 June 2016

REVEALED: The Autobiography Late Amodu Shuaibu will Never Publish

Former Super Eagles' coach, Shaibu Amodu, went to his grave on Saturday with untold stories of trials and triumphs, it has been revealed. 

Amodu Shuaibu
It has been exclusively revealed that the late Amodu Shuaibu, the coach with the highest number of Nigerian FA Cup wins, had already reached an understanding with Kayode Tijani, ace sports journalist, to work on a book as well as a documentary on his life and times.
“He called me and explained to me what he wanted me to help him with an autobiography and a documentary. We were still discussing the possibility when he passed on,” Tijani told TheCable on Sunday.
The stories of his serial cup victories, his several rescue missions for the Super Eagles in the FIFA World Cup qualifying series, and his love-hate relationship with the football authorities will not be told again, at least not in his own words.
Amodu was in the delegation to Egypt for the crucial 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier in March, a game which Nigeria lost. He looked healthy. He was the head of NFF’s coaching technical department, which he combined with his role as sports ambassador for Edo state.
His death was sudden, coming a few hours after he signed the condolence register of Stephen Keshi, his former assistant who had also passed on suddenly.
Amodu had taken off on a blistering note in his coaching life, leading the BCC Lions to win the FA Cup in 1989 with a 1-0 victory over favourites, Iwuanyanwu Nationale of Owerri. The goal was scored by Aham Nwankwo. That was the first time a northern team would win the FA Cup in 36 years.
In 1990, he led the Lions to victory in the Africa Cup Winners Cup (Mandela Cup), the second-level continental competition, beating Club Africain of Tunisia 4-1 (3-0, 1-1) on aggregate in the final. Nigerian clubs had failed to win the trophy in 13 years before then.
He led BCC to the final the following year, almost successfully defending the trophy but lost 5-4 (3-2, 1-3) on aggregate to Power Dynamos of Zambia. That was the first time he was facing a European coach in his career.
Amodu won the FA Cup in 1989, 1992, 1993 and 1994, becoming the most decorated coach in the history of the competition. In leading El-Kanemi Warriors to victory in 1992, he set another record: the Maiduguri club became the first to win FA Cup back-to-back since Rangers did it in 1975 (Rangers won in 1974, 1975 and 1976). Amodu also won the League and Cup double in 1994 (with BCC, on his return) and won the Super Cup in 1989, 1993 and 1994.
After the departure of Dutchman Clemens Westerhof as Super Eagles’ coach in 1994, Amodu was the natural choice to take over in the event that the football authorities chose to appoint a Nigerian coach. True to prediction, he was appointed, with the understanding that a foreign team manager would be employed as his boss someday.
His first assignment was not the easiest — a friendly match against England at the hallowed football shrine, the old Wembley Stadium, London, on November 16, 1994. He could not have asked for a more intimidating assignment. However, the Eagles gave a good account of themselves, controlling much of the first half before caving in to a David Platt goal. A 1-0 loss to England would not be considered a disgraceful debut. No African team had ever beaten England.
Amodu’s next assignment was the 2nd King Fadh Intercontinental Championship (now upgraded and rebranded FIFA Confederations Cup) in Saudi Arabia, January 1995. Nigeria got off to a good start, beating Japan 3-0 with goals from Emmanuel Amunike, Mutiu Adepoju and Daniel Amokachi, but drew goalless with Argentina and lost on penalties to Mexico in the third-place match. They came back empty-handed but with a credible performance.
The last straw was the US Cup in June 1995. Nigeria lost 3-2 to the US and 1-0 to Colombia, and Nigerians began to lose their patience. Amodu’s days were numbered, although he could list a million plausible reasons for the showing, including poor preparations and poor attitude from the foreign-based players. Whatever. He was a goner.
He returned to manage the Super Eagles in 1998-1999, 2001-2002 and 2008-2010. At the Africa Cup of Nations in Mali in 2002, where Keshi was his assistant, he fell out with the Nigeria Football Association over issues of player welfare. Both of them were swept out in controversial circumstances after the tournament, where they placed third.
Shuaibu Amodu
Nigeria was struggling to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea-Japan. A surprise 1-0 loss to lowly Sierra Leone on April 21, 2001 in Freetown had all but extinguished the hopes of Nigerians. Johannes Bonfrere, the Dutch coach handling the Super Eagle who had won the Atlanta 1996 Olympics soccer gold, disappeared without trace.
In came Amodu. It looked like Mission Impossible. But Nigeria beat Liberia 2-0, then went to Omdurman, Sudan, July 1, 2001 more in hope than in expectation. Incredibly, Nigeria thrashed Sudan in their backyard. Not by a lone goal, but FOUR unreplied goals. The nation celebrated. Ghana later fell 3-0. Amodu had come good. Nigeria was going to the FIFA World Cup.
That was the first time a Nigerian coach would manage Super Eagles to qualify. Amodu was later fire. Adegboyega Onigbinde was the man who led the team to the World Cup after Amodu’s sack, dropping out of the first round without winning a match. It is to the eternal shame of NFA, or NFF, that they used and discarded Amodu at will.
Amodu was at his best for the national team in 2010, leading the Eagles to a third place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations and securing another World Cup qualification for Nigeria. He had come in on a rescue mission in the second round, winning six straight matches, hauling 18 points, scoring 11 goals and conceding only one.
As usual, though, he was asked to step aside and Lars Largerback from Sweden was appointed to lead the Eagles to the World Cup in South Africa — where they crashed out in first round, losing all three matches.
Twice, he led Nigeria to qualify for the World Cup and twice he was denied the fruit of his labour. He was not allowed to see the promised land, like Moses.
In all, his Eagles’ record remains glittering: played 53 games, won 26, drew 15 and lost 12.
Amodu was sacked unexpectedly on January 22, 1997. His contract, signed on October 19, 1994, was for four years. He immediately challenged the action in court. The NFA then sent a letter to FIFA citing Article 59 of FIFA statute which prohibits legal actions on football matters.
But FIFA saw things from Amodu’s perspective, ruling on February 20, 1997 through a letter by Flavio Battaini, the head of legal department, that Amodu’s case was one concerning employment rights.
Amodu got a lucrative job with Orlando Pirates, before he was recalled to the Eagles in 1998 as one of the assistants to Bonfrere. Amodu was again sacked when Nigeria failed to win the Africa Cup of Nations of 2002 in Mali. When Berti Vogts was sacked after the 2008 AFCON, Amodu came in again. It was a roller coaster experience.
Amodu’s philosophy is that football must be played to entertain, not just to win. “Football’s principal aim is to entertain. When football is devoid of entertainment, it loses its taste,” he said. He also had a philosophy on building a team he said always worked for him. “I call it ACD. A for Age, C for Concentration and D for Discipline,” he explained.
Though a devout Muslim from Okpella, Edo state, Amodu believes there is an element of luck in life. While picking goalkeeper Peter Rufai as captain in 1994, he pointed to luck as one of his reasons.“Apart from his consistency, Rufai’s other major quality is his luck. Oh yes, he is a luck guy. And if you ask me, luck plays a big role in anything in life, including the outcome of a football game,” he said.
These are probably some of the things he would have explained at length in his autobiography but God obviously had other plans.
Source: TheCable

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