This may be a very difficult but easy test for Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh as he marched with his stewards to the city of Kigali, Rwanda for the Championship for African Nations (CHAN) which kick-started on Saturday.
Despite being Oliseh’s first appearance in the competition, attention will be focused on his tactical and technical abilities in changing the dwindling fortune of the senior national team regardless of whether they are foreign or home based players.
The last time the team featured at the tournament in South Africa in 2014, former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi led the team to a third place finish. However, Oliseh will be hoping to surpass the record?
Without doubt, nothing is impossible in football and like it has been popularly known that there is no harm in trying irrespective of the outcome of the result.
Nigeria has been drawn in group C alongside, Tunisia, Guinea and Niger. A CHAN win for Super Eagles would be a morale boaster for the team in their march for glory.
Oliseh, the former Borussia Dortmund and Juventus midfielder, who may not have been given a target by the Nigerian Football Federation in terms of qualifying the team to the semi-final or winning the trophy could well be in a relaxed mood as he hopes that fate could be in his favor in Rwanda.
One thing Oliseh must have at the back of his mind is the fact that, a disastrous campaign for the team may spell doom for him because Nigerians expect winning at all cost. The same hands that cuddle and pat him on the back when things are going smooth; are the same hands that would hit the big hammer on him when things are going rough.
Besides, with the array of stars in his disposal such as Paul Onobi, Tunde Adeniji, Prince Aggrey, Chisom Chikatara, Ifeanyi Matthew, Austin Oboroakpo, Chima Akas, Usman Mohammed, Bartholomew Ibenegbu, Jamiu Alimi, Yaro Bature, Ezikiel Bassey, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Olufemi Thomas, the team is blessed with experience and talent to overcome all obstacles in Rwanda.
Oliseh, who had earlier raised the alarm over the form of his players said from the teams camp in Pretoria, South Africa, that the players are currently in good shape and in high spirit ahead of the championship, stressing that the South African camp was really of good effect. The last two pre-tournament games against Angola and Ivory Coast have put them in good form.
The coach however, warned that Nigeria should expect a tough tournament as all the countries are fully prepared to face each other, praying that a good start at the group stage will propel the Eagles to excel in the championship.
“I think we can do well in Rwanda because we have a very good team. But at the same time we all know that it us going to become tough tournament for us. We just pray we have a good start from the group matches,” Oliseh said.
This may be Oliseh’s opportunity to prove doubters wrong, having been criticized of lacking the managerial experience by some football pundits in the country. Winning the trophy on February 7, would be a perfect tonic in celebrating what could be a year of laurels for the senior national team.