By Jide Alaka and Tunde Eludini:
The tortuous search by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for a foreign coach for the Super Eagles may have come to an end. A source within the Glass House disclosed to NEXTSports on phone yesterday night that former England coach, Glenn Hoddle, has been approved for the job.
Hoddle was one of the coaches interviewed in London by officials of the National Sports Commission (NSC) and NFF, which included NSC Director General, Patrick Ekeji, NFF President, Sani Lulu, Taiwo Ogunjobi, Secretary General, Bolaji Ojo’Oba and board member, Dominic Iorfa.
Even though, they had discussions with the other coaches shortlisted, our source said the NSC/NFF team had extensive discussions with Hoddle and seem to have made up their mind to hand the job to the former England manager, whose last coaching assignment was in 2006 when he handled Premiership club side, Wolverhampton Wanderers then in the English Championship.
“They are favourably disposed to giving Hoddle the job. In London they had detailed discussions with him and it is certain that the session in Abuja will be a mere formality,” our source said.
The choice of Hoddle as coach is sure to come as surprise to members of the Nigerian football fraternity given the Englishman’s inability to handle any coaching assignment in the last four years. To mitigate the impact of the announcement, officials of the NFF are looking, once again, in the direction of their friends in the media to help provide a soft landing for the scheme. Arrangements have been concluded to have a meeting with some influential journalists today in Abuja where the idea of Hoddle would be sold and their co-operation sought to forestall any backlash.
Cited in England as the finest midfielder of his generation, Hoddle had an above average record as England coach before his dismissal in 1999.
Hoddle was dismissed because of a controversial belief that the disabled, and others, were being punished for sins in a former life. The Football Association terminated Hoddle’s contract on February 2, 1999.
He had a 61 percent win as England manager and was instrumental to the disappearance of Paul Gascoigne from the three Lions squad. England reached the Second Round of the 1998 tournament, losing on penalties to Argentina under his watch. He had also coached Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspurs, Swindon Town and Southhampton. .
Hassan Shehata slips out of the NFF radar
Meanwhile, Hassan Shehata has been dropped from the list with his withdrawal instituted by the Egyptian FA.
The Egyptian Football Association stated at the weekend that it was turning down Nigeria’s overtures towards Shehata citing Nigeria’s shortlist and proposed interview of the coach as reason for their refusal, adding that he shouldn’t be compared with other candidates.
“None of the other candidates is as decorated as Shehata. We rejected their offer out of respect for our coach. This is a final decision,” the statement stated.
An official of the NFF, who craved for anonymity last week, said Shehata had agreed to fly in from his home country to attend the interview scheduled for February 26 in Abuja.
This development brings to five the number of coaches that have turned their backs on the Eagles coaching job. The coaches include Dutchman Guus Hidink, currently coach of Russia, who recently signed a deal to coach Turkey’s the national team after his current deal expires in the summer, Bayern Munich’s Loius Van Gal, Englishman Peter Taylor who on Tuesday last week took up a coaching job with Bradford City FC, an English League two club, and Giovanni Trapatoni, coach of Ireland.
More coaches angle for the job
Despite the development, more coaches are still showing interest in the job, the latest entrant being Italian, Ariggo Sacchi.
After sacking Shaibu Amodu, the NFF have also approached Lars Lagerback, Ratomir Djukovic, Bruno Metsu and Peter Taylor.
However,, former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is expected to be the most high profile attendee of Nigeria’s coaching interviews set for this Friday in Abuja.
The Swede, whose last international job was with Mexico, was not on the original shortlist announced by Nigeria, but sent in his application to be considered.
Others expected to be in Abuja are former Senegal coach Bruno Metsu presently coaching in Qatar, ex-Ghana coach Ratomir Djukovic, who had initially said he was not interested in the job but would instead concentrate on his current assignment as coach of Serbia’s U-21 side and Lars Lagerback, who resigned from his Sweden position after failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
The NFF is expected to unveil a new coach for the Eagles on February 28.
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