Managerless Nigeria appoint caretakers

Soccer ball (Gallo)
Soccer ball (Gallo)

Abuja - Nigeria's Olympic team coach Samson Siasia will take charge for the Super Eagles' upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers after Sunday Oliseh resigned, the country's football federation said on Friday.

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) technical committee chairman Chris Green announced the appointments in the capital Abuja in the wake of Oliseh's departure.

The 41-year-old coach quit overnight, citing unpaid wages and contractual breaches, throwing Nigeria's qualification into doubt for next year's AFCON tournament in Gabon.

Siasia will be joined on the bench by national team assistant coach Salisa Yusuf and Under-20 manager Emmanuel Amuneke to prepare for the double-header with Egypt next month.

Shaibu Amodu, who has previously managed the national team on four occasions, declined to return on health grounds but will have a supervisory role, the NFF said.

"These are temporary appointments and they will be reviewed after the matches against Egypt with the coaches expected to revert to their primary assignments," said one official who was at the meeting.

It is understood Nigeria are looking to appoint a full-time foreign coach.

Siasia's appointment is a return to the job he lost in 2011 when he was sacked in the wake of Nigeria's failure to qualify for the 2012 AFCON.

Oliseh was just eight months into a three-year contract and said he quit because he did not enjoy the support of the NFF.

"Due to Contract violations, lack of support, unpaid wages, benefits to my players, assistant coaches and myself, I resign as Super Eagles Chief Coach," he wrote on Twitter in the early hours of Friday.

The man he replaced in July 2015, Stephen Keshi, had previously complained of unpaid wages and was later paid the arrears by Nigeria's presidency in 2013.

Players have also protested in the past about unpaid bonuses from the state-funded NFF.

Nigeria's game against Egypt is a must-win qualifier in the northern city of Kaduna with the return leg two days later in Cairo.

Egypt are seven-times winners of the tournament and currently head Group G with six points after two matches. Nigeria are second on four points.

Only the overall group winners are guaranteed automatic qualification to the 2017 finals.

Oliseh has complained he has been unable to travel to Europe to assess Nigerian players to pick his squad.

Nigeria already faced an uphill battle to defend the title they won in 2013 in South Africa and after failing to qualify for last year's finals.

Former national team official Ben Alaiya said Oliseh's resignation has further compromised the country's chances of getting through.

"It's a shock. He should not have quit, it was like abandoning the ship in the middle of the sea. It was a big slap to 180 million Nigerians," he said.

"But we must move ahead and look at the options because we have very important games against Egypt next month."

Former Nigeria international Dosu Joseph said the NFF must move quickly to appoint a successor to stay on track for Gabon 2017.

"Many of us saw this coming but we now need to move forward because we have to beat Egypt at least at home or else kiss goodbye to the Nations Cup," he warned.

"The NFF must now sit up for the matches against Egypt because it will be a disaster if we failed again to qualify for the Nations Cup."

Oliseh's relations with the NFF soured when Nigeria failed to go past the group stage of the recent African Nations Championships in Rwanda.

He vented his frustration in a YouTube video earlier this month, attacking critics who wanted him sacked, but later apologised, while sports minister Solomon Dalung backed him to stay on.

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