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Top 10 Coaches In The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)

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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.

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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.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Football Clubs With The Best Branding

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.

READ ALSO: NPFL Suffering In The Hands Of Selfish, Non-Challant League Leaders

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.

 

 

 

 

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Muyiwa is an ardent follower of everything football. Fascinated by the beauty of the game, he takes pleasure in penning down his opinion about a sport that has more lovers than haters. PS: He loves Barcelona for making football look easier than it actually is.

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