There is an apparent dearth of Nigerian coaches in the top flight with opportunities outside the Nigerian leagues hard to come for them. But nevertheless, we have more than enough tacticians that are arguably the best set of coaches in Nigeria and are capable of doing exploits outside Nigeria.
This write-up takes a deep look at some selected coaches in the NOFL who are perhaps the best amongst their peers.
10. Fidelis Ilechukwu
The working one as he’s fondly called is not a new name in the NPFL, the erstwhile MFM FC manager began his career with the Olukoya boys in 2006 when the club was founded.
Having endured some torrid times in the NLO, Fidelis with his tactical brilliance ensured that MFM gained promotion to the NPFL in 2015 after the club was handed the slot of Bolowotan FC in 2013.
Players like Stephen Odey, Sikiru Olatunbosun, and Ifeanyi Ifeanyi all flourished under the working one and gave MFM a name and reputation in the NPFL with a scintillating performance from the players and especially Stephen Odey becoming the joint top scorers in the NPFL in that period.
MFM under Fidelis Ilechukwu almost cruised to winning the League in the 2016/2017 season by giving Plateau United a run for their money with an inexperienced squad in the NPFL and later finished second behind the eventual winners Plateau United.
Thereafter, their decline in the NPFL began after the sale of their prolific striker (Stephen Odey) and got knocked out in the CAF Champions League due to their lack of experienced players. However, Fidelis had the backing of the Lagos based club hierarchy and stayed on to manage the team till he resigned in the build-up to the 2019/2020 NPFL season and was appointed by Heartland United.
It’s left to be seen whether he will replicate what he did with MFM in a more popular and funded club side.
9. Felix Nwosu
Another man changing the tide is Felix Ifeanyi Nwosu. At just 29 years – an age to still be actively playing, he has taken the African coaching scene by surprise. The Anambra State native had a playing career as a centre-back that saw him turn out for Nigerian giants Enugu Rangers and also Kenya’s most successful club Gor Mahia. Nwosu equally had stints with Ligi Ndogo, FC Talanta and Moyas FC, all in Kenya.
His playing career was unfortunately cut short at the age of 24 in 2013 due to a recurring knee injury. It was not going to be the end of the road because his club side then, Talanta, drafted him into the coaching crew. The club was able to finish second on the log, tied on the same points with eventual division champions Posta Rangers.
He was an assistant coach at Nigerian women’s second-tier side Beautiful Tours Angels of Abuja in 2015. He had a short stint there but was able to propel them from seventh to third on the log. Coach Nwosu became manager of the Somali Premier League side Heegan FC in 2016 and led his team to third place in the Somali FA Cup. Due to insecurity and political unrest in the Horn of Africa nation, Felix returned home to Nigeria in 2017 to join the youth academy, Ambassador Child Youth Club.
He oversaw a total of 30 matches with the amateur side, winning 25 games, drawing four and losing just once. One of the highlights of his time there was beating his former side Rangers twice and holding FC Ifeanyi Ubah to a stalemate in Nnewi.
Felix holds a CAF coaching license as well as licenses from the KNVB in the Netherlands, TikiTaka Sweden, and KISE Kenya. He was recently named among the 25 best young coaches in Africa out of a pool of more than 700 coaches at the 2018 Arsenal/WorldRemit “Future Stars” youth coaching program. The under 30 coach has the ambition to become a top coach in Africa that is eager to learn new things. This is one of the things that makes him stand out from other traditional coaches whose philosophy is based on a physical and defensive approach.
For Nwosu, he is keen on a philosophy that sees teams attack and has cited Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola as his coaching role model. He was nicked the “Guardiola of Somalia” while with Heegan FC due to a similar approach with the famous Spanish tactician.
Felix Nwosu is a man on a mission and with what he’s done within a short space of time, considering his age, he’s certainly set to achieve much greater things in the near future and beyond.
8. Ladan Bosso
Ladan Bosso is one of the best managers in the Nigeria Professional Football League. Bosso started as an assistant to several coaches in the U-17 team before moving to the U-20 team and led Nigeria to the 2007 World Youth Championship.
He was back as a coach again with the U-20s in 2009 and qualified the team for the World Cup in Egypt after the African Championship, in Rwanda, but was sacked before the competition. As a manager in the Nigeria Premier League, Bosso has recorded modest achievements.
His club career started at Niger Tornadoes after replacing Bernard Ogbe in 2001 and he ensured Tornadoes returned to the top flight to be part of the newly introduced Premier League structure in 2003. Bosso’s best record in the domestic campaign was at Wikki Tourists. With a modest budget, Bosso led Wikki to the Super Four twice in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
7. Abdu Maikaba
Another veteran that began his career as an assistant coach in Abuja FC in 2006 and later moved to Enyimba three years after. The 54-year-old Nigerian gaffer who is a former Flying Eagles assistant coach also had a stint with Akwa United and Wikki Tourists before moving to Plateau United where he currently has helped them top the NPFL table.
So far this season, Maikaba has guided United to 14 points at the summit of the league having won four games and drawn two.
6. Usman Ab’dallah
He coached football club sides in Asia and France. He is the Head Coach and Technical Adviser with two times African Champions League winner Enyimba International FC. They hold eight Nigerian Professional Football League championships and four Federation Cups.
Before joining Enyimba, he coached in Nigeria with Kano Pillars as an assistant coach and also oversaw the youth team of the club. He joined Enyimba initially as an assistant to Paul Aigbogun. He was later promoted to Head Coach and led the side to the semi-finals of the CAF Confederations Cup, losing to Raja Casablanca of Morocco.
He won the Nigeria Professional Football League title in 2018/19 season, finishing first ahead of his state club Kano Pillars.
5. Ibrahim Musa
The currently embattled Kano Pillars manager is another beautiful name in Nigeria football that cannot be isolated from the best of local coaches. It will be recalled that the management of the club had asked the gaffer to step aside after the 2018 Aiteo Federation Cup final debacle which saw Enugu Rangers come from 0-3 to snatch victory from Kano Pillars on penalties.
However, Musa was reinstated in January 2019 as the substantive Pillars head coach. Thereafter, massive success was recorded for pillars in the 2018/2019 season where the Masu Gida side came runners up in the League and scooped the Aiteo Cup from Niger Tornadoes in July.
Presently, Musa’s struggle in the NPFL has generated criticisms from some people who are ignorant of the fact that most players in the Kano Pillars team are already old. Anytime any day, Musa remains a top coach in Nigerian football.
4. Kennedy Boboye
Here is a name that the entire fans and handlers of Plateau United will never forget. Kennedy is a manager who in 2017 did the unthinkable with plateau united by winning them the league for the first time ever in the history of the Jos based club.
To achieve success in 2017 with a team limited in abilities, Boboye did the unconventional, making use of left-back Daniel Itodo’s outrageous talent at executing long throws to harm his opponents. And as expected, his plans to harm his opponents worked and ensured that Kennedy will forever remain in the good books of Plateau United.
Kennedy resigned at United in 2018 and was appointed as the Technical Advisor to Remo Stars’ Fatai Osho but the appointment came to a sad end when Remo stars got relegated and had to part ways with Kennedy. Despite that, his lack of job right now doesn’t make him a novice in Nigerian football.
3. Imama Amapakabo
Apart from being a former junior international and having had a stint with Enyimba of Aba, little was known about him in Nigeria’s soccer scene. However, all that has changed as Imama Amapakabo is probably the most popular local football coach in the country today. All thanks to his greatest achievement as a manager in 2016 with Enugu Rangers.
The impact and effort of Amapakabo did not go unnoticed by the Nigeria Football Federation in 2016 to assist the then acting coach of then Super Eagles (Salisu Abubakar) Imama since then held on firmly to the job from NFF and was later asked to stand in for the former Kano Pillars and Enyimba manager (Salisu Yusuff) following the dollar scandal in 2018.
But recently, Imama hasn’t had it all rosy with Nigerians having failed to qualify Nigeria’s dream team for the much anticipated Tokyo 2020 after the dismal outing of the home-based Eagles in the CHAN tournament in Egypt.
2. Gbenga Ogunbote
“The Oracle” is a name almost every Nigerian club will want to be attached to or have to manage their team. How a manager who began his coaching career at Sunshine stars in 2012 has risen swiftly to stardom in 2019 is to some people incomprehensible.
Gbenga who performed an unprecedented miracle with his Flying Antelopes side in 2017 when Rangers had conceded 3 unreplied goals at half time against Kano Pillars during the Aiteo Cup final to win the game on penalties after his team equalized and dragged the tired Pillars’ players to penalties.
In 2018, The Oracle was awarded with the Nigerian Best Award ahead of Super Eagles’ German tactician Gernot Rohr and the erstwhile Lobi Stars’ manager, Solomon Ogbede. Interestingly, after the sack of Solomon at Lobi, Ogunbote dumped Rangers International for Lobi and has instilled his tactical acumen into the Lobi stars players.
1. Salisu Yusuff
Aside from the Dollar scandal, Coach Salisu Yusuff is perhaps the best manager in the NPFL. Yusuff who spent all his professional career in the Nigerian League and represented Nigeria at both junior and senior levels. He started his playing career as a midfielder for ABU Football Club before he went on to play for several Nigerian football clubs including Ranchers Bees and El-Kanemi Warriors.
The Kaduna born gaffer began his managerial career in 2002 at Nassarawa United and somehow found his way to Lobi stars in 2003 as an assistant manager where he contributed his quota to help Lobi win the National Challenge Cup which was later changed to Nigerian FA Cup and now called Aiteo Cup.
Salisu who now plies his trade as Enugu Rangers manager in the NPFL also is in the history books of Enyimba and Kano Pillars where he won the Nigerian FA Cup and The Nigeria Premier League respectively. Make no mistake about it, Salisu is the best local manager in Nigerian as of now.
2 Potential Manager To Replace Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick awesome reign with the Bavarian giant is gradually winding down, as it’s looking likely that he may not further manage the Die Roten next season.
Bayern Munich’s quest to win the Champions League consecutively came to end on Tuesday night, via the UEFA’s away goal rules having lost the first leg at home to Paris Saint Germain in the quarter-finals despite being the better side at home.
The Bavarian giant will now focus on league duty and they’re no doubt the team in pole position to win the Bundesliga, as the 2020-21 campaign is gradually coasting home with fewer games left to be played. In that regard, there is a great need for Die Roten to start preparing for next season administration and coaching wise.
The friction relationship between Hansi Flick and the Sports Director has broken down to such as extent that the manager has decided to terminate his current contract.
Hansi Flick sent shock waves through German football on Saturday after a 3-2 win over Wolfburg which keeps the Bavarian in pole position to retain the league title. Hansi Flick issued a statement about his decision to exit when the current campaign draws to a close.
“I told the team today that I informed the club during the week, after the game in Paris, I would like to terminate my contract at the end of the season.
“It was important to me that the team learn this from me because there was already a lot of hallway rumours going around.
“We’ve done a great job together for almost two years. I’m absolutely impressed with this team, their quality and their attitude.”
He added: “I also want to thank the club that gave me the chance to manage this incredible team.
“This decision was not easy for me. I’m a fan of this club. Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge all were childhood idols for me.
“I’m eternally grateful to the club for the chance they gave me to become head coach here.”
It’s quite evident that a new manager would be appointed to pave way for a new rebuild of the team especially with the looming departure of David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Javi Martinez.
Two potential top managers that could succeed Hansi Flick, should he accept Die Mannschaft managerial position.
- Julien Nagelsmann – (RB Leipzig)
Nagelsmann has been rumoured as a possible replacement to succeed not one but many managers in Europe’s top-flight leagues whose future with their respective clubs are not guaranteed. This time around, the 33-year-old has been rumoured to be one of the possible potential managers to succeed Hansi Flick.
It could be argued that Nagelsmann is the tailor-made manager to take over the reins at the Allianz Arena, and there is no doubt RB Leipzig manager would certainly harbour the dream of managing one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Nagelsmann is presently focusing on the job at hand with RB Leipzig, plus the fact that he’s still under contract with his employers until the end of the 2022-23 season.
With RB Leipzig and Nagelsmann flying high in the Bundesliga in terms of team performances, with next season European football spot already secured, the club’s Executive Director Oliver Mintzlaff may consider letting him leave to join their rival.
However, it’s left to be seen how things would shape up at the end of the campaign.
READ ALSO: 10 Managers Currently Managing Former Clubs
- Jurgen Klopp – (Liverpool)
The relationship the German tactician has achieved thus far with Liverpool started in 2015 when he joined the Kop from Borussia Dortmund, since then he has achieved quite an incredible success with the Reds winning their first league title after thirty years and a Champions League triumph.
Liverpool were eliminated early in both domestic cup competitions and failed to progress past the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and it’s quite impossible to say that the Kop will defend their title with their current epileptic form in the Premier League especially when it’s looking done and dusted that the cityzen would clinch the title.
Having used close to six years with Liverpool since he joined the Anfield side, this could be the perfect time for the former Borussia Dortmund manager to take up a new challenge. However, despite Liverpool’s unpalatable 2020-21 campaign, the German has often reiterated that he is in no way finished at Liverpool, despite been link to the Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft managerial position.
Given his incredible success with BVB, it’s quite evident that he would one day go on to manage either Die Roten or Die Mannschaft. Should Bayern secure the service of Klopp, he would certainly be the right and wise choice for the Bavarian giant.
At the end of the campaign, there would be a breath of fresh air in the Bavarian giant camp, with the new CEO Oliver Kahn taking the mantle of leadership from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. In that sense, it’s left to be seen if the incoming leader would sanction the appointment of a new manager or stick with Hansi Flick. Only time would tell.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.