Behind the Oliseh/Enyeama face-off

Friday 9 October 2015

/ by Colin Udoh
The Super Eagles will now be without Enyeama

It has been a turbulent last few days for the Super Eagles, ending with a 2-0 loss to Congo DR in Thursday night's friendly.

A disagreement between captain Vincent Enyeama and coach Sunday Oliseh ended with the former calling time on his international career and the latter vilified and having his man management skills questioned by the majority of fans and media.

Contrary to initial reports, Enyeama's late arrival to camp was not the issue at the root of the confrontation, but Oliseh's decision to hand the Super Eagles captain's arm band to Ahmed Musa.

Enyeama reported to camp after attending his late mother's funeral, and according to both player and coach, he was given a good reception

"They were already at training when I arrived, so I drove down to the field to meet them," Enyeama told ESPNFC. "The coach welcomed me, we had a group hug and took pictures."

"We were very happy to see him," Oliseh weighed in. "He had just buried his mum and to be honest, I didn't even expect him to be in camp. I thought he would call and say he was staying back to deal with family issues.

"We are Africans and we know that times like this, a lot of family stuff comes up, and for someone like him, it would be even harder. So he could have been excused if he had stayed back."

Enyeama took it a different way
"He said he was surprised to see me. That he didn't expect me to come that's why he invited four goalkeepers. Then why invite me, then?"

At the post dinner team meeting that evening, Oliseh laid into his players, furious that they had not shown enough fire and hunger in training.

At the end, he announced that he had taken a decision to keep Ahmed Musa, who had been acting in Enyeama's absence, as team captain.

Taken aback by the news, Enyeama says he stood up to ask for an explanation.

"I couldn't understand it, but to tell you the truth, I have no problems with not being captain. What I found odd was that as a captain and player who had played for 13 years, I should have been accorded the respect of the coach calling me into his room to tell me he was taking such a decision.
"He is the coach and he does not need to explain to me why he is choosing a different captain. But the way he announced it was humiliating for me and I wanted to stand up and ask him why he did so."

Enyeama was not allowed to speak. 

"He told me to sit down and not say anything. But I insisted calmly that I have earned the right to speak.
"He told me that if I insisted on speaking, either the team would leave the hall for me, or I would have to leave. When I continued speaking, he walked to the door, opened it and asked me to leave the camp."

Oliseh explains why

"I told him that this was not the right time. That we could discuss it later. But he kept insisting loudly that he wanted to talk. So I told him we could either leave the hall for him, or he would have to leave.

"When he continued, I opened the door and asked him to leave.

"Some of the other players, Musa, Emenike, Mikel and Onazi were holding him and asking him to calm down. You can confirm from any of them.

"At no point did security get anywhere near him. Unless the players I mentioned above are now security."

NFF President Amaju Pinnick called in from Nigeria, spoke to both coach and player and resolved the issue, with Oliseh agreeing to allow Enyeama stay in camp.

The goalkeeper himself, who had made up his mind to leave, was persuaded to stay

Musa and the other players continued playing peacekeepers, shuttling between both men's rooms, even trying to get Oliseh to change his mind and reinstate Enyeama in the interest of peace.

But the coach would not budge. He told ESPNFC why he took the decision

"When I took over as coach, Enyeama was the first person I went to see. I drove to Lille, took him out to lunch and discussed my plans and philosophy going forward. 
"While we were talking, he mentioned his plans to retire in about a year or two. I told him I was building a team and he should not talk about retirement now.

"On three separate occasions when we talked, including before the Tanzania game, he kept talking about retirement. That was when I made up my mind to appoint a captain I could count on for the long run.

"I cannot have a captain who is thinking about retirement. I want one who will lead the team into the future. That's why I took that decision."

Pinnick's call appeared to have soothed nerves with the NFF even sending out a press release that all was now well in the camp.

Things took a turn for the worse the next morning when Enyeama made an Instagram post which suggested his late mother had been insulted.

That set Oliseh off and things went irretrievably downhill from there
"At no point did I say anything, not a single word about his late mother. That was just a blatant lie and attempt at character assassination.
"If he wanted to retire, he should have just said so, not to start making up stories."
Oliseh called out Enyeama in the team bus

"He told me he did not know me, did not care to know me and did not think I was important to his team. That was when I decided to leave for good. If the coach doesn't want me, there is no point.

"So I trained with the team as Carl Ikeme was the only other goalkeeper. When Dele Alampasu arrived, I went to his room, told him I was retiring and left."

It is a sad end to an illustrious career and a messy situation that could have been avoided with a little more care.

And it all comes down to communication and patience. Both men corroborate each other'so account of events, but their point of departure is their understanding and interpretation of each other's motives.

On a general note however, what is clear is that there were three major failings.

As coach, Oliseh is under no obligation to, but should have called Vincent and Musa privately to explain the baton change. 
When asked to hold his horses and discuss the matter privately, Enyeama should have calmed down and waited to speak to the coach in private rather than undermine him in front of his squad.
After the issue was resolved by the NFF president and his teammates, Enyeama should not have made the Instagram post that reignited the flames
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  1. God bless u Collins, more grease to your elbow..

  2. There is a reason why you are at the top of this profession in Nigeria. You are legend! !!! If all sports people reasoned like you do the landscape in Nigeria would be a better place.

  3. Enyeama wants Oliseh sacked.He even lied three times all in a bid to blackmail the coach. Congrats Oliseh for easing off a huge distraction off your boys.The other boys in camp will sit up.Carl Ikemes performance was a nightmare for Enyeama.

  4. Despite Colin Udoh's perceived or seeming close relationship with Vincent I appreciate most profoundly your objective posture to this issue after gathering facts from both parties. Kudos, one in a million.

  5. Thanks for presenting a balanced report. However, when confronted by a team member who keeps insisting on speaking in the public, it's always best to let the aggrieved person speak up. This is not an election campaign. The decision on who is captain of the team is the responsibility of the coach. Allowing the aggrieved to express his feelings would have eased the tension that was brewing and cleared the air. This does not undermine the authority of the coach in anyway, rather it enhances it. A big lesson in management.

    1. Well said, a lesson for us all too.....well said sir

  6. Efunkoya Damilola9 October 2015 at 17:16

    God bless u Mr Collins udoh for this update. keep soaring higher

  7. Thank you Mr Colins. That is the way to do this job, more power to your pen. I agreed with you totally. However, Enyeama's motivation and zeal to stay in the faltering Super Eagles has been on the downward slope, with the ill timed announcement of a new Captain he found a window to let-off steam and escape. Not so nice way to end a glittering national career! But Oliseh had to be strong.

  8. What an end to an illustrious career. It is always wrong for players to take to social media when there is a problem in the team. i only hope that the NFF will see beyond what has transpired and organize a befitting testimonial match for Enyeama.

  9. Bros, i hail you DIE!!!!!! Your analysis and comments are apt. I feel pained deeply at the turn of events. Please Sir, is there a way this issue can be resolved? Nigeria stand to lose more in all of this. No one is right here, neither is anyone wrong. I plead that you guys do all you can to help resolve this issue. If Vincent wants to retire as we know he would, then it should be a dignified exit, not like this. He has served us well, and deserves our respect. Oliseh too has and is serving us still and needs all of our support and all the help he can get. The team is being rebuilt and does not need all these distractions. Thanks again for the insightful analysis.

  10. Seriously, I think Oliseh has a lot of blame in this. Granted, whoever is to become the team captain is his sole responsibility but there was no inkling of the change to Enyeama before the public announcement. He just left home 2 days after burying his mum and the next thing is the public denouncement of his captainship. I believe the issue of the insult to his mum is because he abandoned responsibilities in his village after the woman's burial just to be with the team and there and then he was demoted. I believe as an African, he thought it would have been better for him to have stayed home and honoured the mum than coming there to be publicly ridiculed.

  11. Thank u Colin for this balanced report. I hope both men genuinely reconcile, and a befitting testimonial for Enyeama be organized by the NFF. Nigeria will be great again!

  12. A very balanced judgement! All this furore is cos Enyeama was a hero for us but that doesnt remove the acts of indiscipline hr exhibited! I am so sure that if the scenario was in his Club, THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN! NO PLAYER CHALLENGES HIS COACH NO MATTER WHAT AND HOW BIG YOU ARE! You can still get your ideas across in more subtle ways or you opt out! Am sure the uproar from Nigerians would have been louder If Enyeama had been silent and then walked away/retired!

  13. oga colly u do well , its really a pity that all this could be Happening , discipline is always a good step to success for all I care and know , if Vincent coming back to camp with a whole lots of emotion definitely needs a braveheart to atleast calm him down and make him know that life goes on and he definitely has to bury his mum and not the other way round ....
    If all this were definitely discussed between them indoors am sure no one would have known all this until now but its open that we are all aware of it . its really a pity but I just have this mixed feelings like would it be okay for the super eagles to be without Vincent enyeama or will it be bad with him ?
    The answer should be on the field of play as in the outcome on the pitch ...I think the next match will bring light on the future of our boys and time I guess heals all wound ....pls they should bury the hatchet and let bygone be bygone ... if I were oliseh I think I will do the same just to succeed and if I were Vincent I will react exactly the same cos we are all human and we do show emotions , I think emotion is exactly the hidden case here ... all this is just exercised , just to prove how strong we are and the limit we can all go.
    I believe super eagles will back someday with enyeama no matter what ...

  14. Enyeama has always earned my respect but he acted un professionally. He caused confusion in the camp the way he presented his case. Hope it doesn't affect the players worse than it did in game again DRC.

  15. Enyeama has always earned my respect but he acted un professionally. He caused confusion in the camp the way he presented his case. Hope it doesn't affect the players worse than it did in game again DRC.

  16. A very balanced judgement! All this furore is cos Enyeama was a hero for us but that doesnt remove the acts of indiscipline hr exhibited! I am so sure that if the scenario was in his Club, THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN! NO PLAYER CHALLENGES HIS COACH NO MATTER WHAT AND HOW BIG YOU ARE! You can still get your ideas across in more subtle ways or you opt out! Am sure the uproar from Nigerians would have been louder If Enyeama had been silent and then walked away/retired!

  17. Collins thanks for your report. But I want it known that Olise exhibited arrogance as he wanted to be seen as the no nonsense boss. He has no pedigree as a coach like the mortals before him, so he should be careful. He was highly insensitive and careless about the sensitivity of others. That is no character of a strong leader. We've not suffered the memory loss of the troubles caused in the national team during his playing days.

  18. well said,A very balanced judgement, both men are wrong. it all goes down to communication and patience. keep on doing the good job

  19. Oliseh should have done better by persuading Enyeama to stay. You dont allow your best hands to leave when options are not available. Dont you see how clubs use to insist on a player not getting transfer even against their wish. There is no question of what happened here. The whole fiasco that played out would have got Olseh sacked if it is a serious football country. If Enyeama was in the post against congo at worst we would have had 0:0. I dont know why we kept recycling poor coaches. For me with what happened I am not expecting anything further from Oliseh. Intead of thinking about getting the team in good shape we are now settling rift between coach and player. that alone shows how incompetent oliseh is.

  20. I think in this case the coach lost his managerial ability. Cos two wrong cannot make a righright. He would av allow him pour out his mind then it would have been very easy to identify where their problems arouse from.

  21. Adeyemi Olusola, you are a funny dude. Oliseh should have begged Enyeama to stay: What message does that convey? That one player is bigger than the team? How can you even compare scenario where a club player is requesting a transfer to a player retiring from international football? To top it off you are alluding to the fact that Ikene was responsible for both goals as Enyeama won't have conceded them. How many goals has Enyeama conceded while keeping for Nigeria? FYI the problem that night was the makeshift defense not keeper.

    My thoughts: Colin Udoh you have presented a balanced report and the version of Oliseh goes with what Oliseh said on Brila FM. As you rightly stated the dispute between the warring factions is perspective. Enyeama I believe is way too emotional at this point to be involved with the national team. Let him be given some time off to grief before an approach is made for him to reconsider his retirement. What has happened is not enough to divide both parties.

  22. But Sunday Oliseh no get guarantee that he will be in that job till 2 or 3 years this Football. Soldier go soldier come. Contract cancelled. Long term captain......that wont retire soon that mathes no add up. Two more bad results and we no go Nation Cup job don finish... Unemployment that is football.You cant just change a captain like especially national team captain and who is in top form. We Know the truth here Sunday know the truth and the core present super eagles players know. Footballer mentality different. Make we siddon look.

  23. Those who always try to divorce moral obligations from lawful obligations should know that respect is reciprocal. My opinion remains unshaken, and that is that the cause of the problem was oliseh's wrong decision to undermine enyeama by taking him unawares with that announcement. All that happened after are mere reactions of which oliseh's action was the catalyst. It's almost as if one goes purposely to look for trouble because he knows he can, but when the consequences arise, he tries to play the saint. I'm sorry but coach oliseh is far from a saint on this one.

  24. I still find this report biased. You never mentioned what Enyeama said was his major annoyance. He said clearly that his major anger was making him 3rd Goalie. No na! Not at this point in his career. Enyeama even said that alone will affect his career. And I believe him. Besides, if u don't think Enyeama will show up, call and confirm. Inviting 4 goal keepers; saying you weren't expecting him; demoting him and not letting him talk, especially after leaving all the responsibility at home, just to play for the team; and finally saying you don't know him. I personally feel like those were not handled well by Oliseh. For a moment put yourself in Vincent's shoes at that moment. However, I personally don't support social media as a way to solve issues. Vincent in my opinion shouldn’t have taken this issue to social media.

  25. Enyeama was hasty in taking retirement as the solution to this, we still need him in goal captain or not, I respect both parties side but knowing that he was angered he should have taken a better decision than retirement. If I have to carry a placard to beg I will, he should swallow the bitter pill like he said for the sake of the Nation.Oliseh cool down too kwanu ah ah

  26. I think Oliseh carries most of the blame. He claims to have been mistreated in 2002 but he is showing he hasn't learnt much from those days. It is certainly hypocritical of him to try to treat Enyeama like a kid. Perhaps he is jealous of Enyeama's achievement. Oliseh cannot last as the coach of the eagles. I give him 6 months. He lacks managerial skills first of all and worse still he lacks tactical competence. Good bye Oliseh. It's just a question of time.


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