Advantage Amunike or Guardiola’s pal? Key criteria unveiled for Super Eagles’ next head coach selection

The technical committee of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, will meet today (Wednesday) to pick the next coach of the Super Eagles, reports.

The Nigerian national team has been without a substantive head coach since Jose Peseiro vacated the position after the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.

Former international Finidi George took charge of the Super Eagles on an interim basis for the friendly games against Ghana and Mali in March.

A new head coach is expected to be named in the coming hours as Nigeria prepare for two crucial World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin Republic in June.

Ahead of the coach selection, NFF technical committee member Felix Owolabi has outlined the qualities the body will look for in the shortlisted candidates.

“I think this issue of Eagles having either an indigenous or foreign coach should not cause this great country sleepless nights. Whatever the NFF decides, the talents are already there,” former international Owolabi said, as per Score Nigeria.

“All we need is someone very intelligent, knowledgeable about the game, who has seen it all as a player at local, national and international levels. He must be that personality who is higher and above the players.

“To manage the Super Eagles, the coach must have integrity such that the players will respect him. His CV should be enough to speak for him. And there should be an understanding that such a person will respect the local league, which is the future and destiny of our football.”

Who does the crown fit?

Two criteria stick out from Owolabi’s comments.

The next Super Eagles coach must have enjoyed an excellent playing career for club and country, and he must have made a significant impact during his coaching career.

Of the two front-runners for the Super Eagles coaching job, Domènec Torrent and Emmanuel Amunike, it is the former Barcelona winger who fits the bill almost perfectly.

Amunike won two Egyptian league titles and the CAF Champions League with Zamalek. He claimed two honours with Sporting Lisbon and the Copa del Rey with Barcelona.

For Nigeria, Amunike lifted the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and the Olympic Games gold medal in 1996, scoring in the final of both competitions.

He was the first Nigerian to score two goals in a single edition of the FIFA World Cup and was the CAF Africa Footballer of the Year in 1994.

The best club Spanish manager Domènec Torrent played during his active days was amateur side Olot, in the sixth division of the country’s league system.

Torrent, however, has a slight advantage over Amunike regarding the coaching criteria. 

As a coach, Amunike led Nigeria to win the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2015 and guided Tanzania to qualify for the 2019 AFCON for the first time in almost four decades.

Torrent, on the other hand, has managed clubs in Spain, Brazil, and Turkey. However, he only spent a few months at any of Girona, Flamengo, or Galatasaray before he was sacked for poor results.

The most significant period of Torrent’s coaching career was spent as Pep Guardiola’s longest-serving assistant and close buddy.

The 62-year-old was Guardiola’s right-hand man when he coached Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and his first two years at Manchester City.

The experience and tactical knowledge he gained beside one of the world’s greatest football minds has, however, failed to come to the fore since he left the coaching bench at Manchester City.

The NFF technical committee could, however, be open to hiring a European manager for the Super Eagles while a Nigerian tactician could be picked as the assistant.

It is a formula that has worked well in the past, according to Owolabi.

“A mixture of both with a perfect understanding will give us results. After all, the three times we won the African Nations Cup, we had two whites, Otto Gloria and Clemens Westerhof.

You can only get the best if you go for the best,” Owolabi noted.

NB: Does the NFF coach selection committee’s criteria favour Amunike or Torrent? Leave your comments below.

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