Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Nigeria's failure to advance beyond the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa has re-opened the debate over the hiring of foreign coaches for the national team, the Super Eagles.
Though he qualified the Eagles for the World Cup, local coach Shaibu Amodu was dropped in favour of 61-year-old Swedish coach, Lars Lagerback, who bagged a mouth-watering US$1.
8 million, five-month contract to take the team to the World Cup.
However, with a salary of US$360,000 per month, Lagerback could not lead his team to a single victory in the three matches it played at the group stage, strengthening the hands of those opposed to the hiring of foreign coaches.
Nigeria lost 1-0 to Argentina, 2-1 to Greece and managed to get a draw against South Korea, thus crashing out in the first round of the first World Cup to be held in Africa.
''No amount of spin or hype by the NFA (Nigeria Football Association) and its compromised so-called stakeholders will change the fact that they and the Super Eagles Technical Adviser Lars Lagerback have finally taken our football back to the 1950s,'' Adokiye Amiesimaka, a former national team player, wrote in his newspaper column.
``We have denied our own Shaibu Amodu the opportunity of taking the team he qualified for the World Cup to the prestigious tournament, and gifted that privilege to a foreigner that could not qualify his star-studded native country to the same tournament,'' he added.
Lagerback's supporters argue, however, that he had a limited time to prepare the team for the World, and that his contract should be extended so he can build a new team.
Nigerians have also described the huge money spent on the coach and the team as a colossal waste.
''Nigeria has invested close to one billion naira for this event.
All that has gone to the wind without anything to show for it.
I think the team should be disbanded and preparation for the next event should begin earlier,'' said a disappointed fan, Friday Ugochukwu.
On Wednesday, local newspapers lamented the Super Eagles early ouster from the World Cup, despite their football pedigree.
The GUARDIAN newspaper, writing under the headline ''Nigeria's World Cup run ends in shame'', perhaps best captured the general mood.
The paper wrote: ''Nigeria’s participation at the ongoing FIFA 2010 World Cup came to a sad end yesterday with the 2-2 against South Korea depicting the sorry state of the nation with so much resources and potential but yet failed to deliver when it matters.
''Even when God made it easy with Argentina’s 2-0 defeat of Greece, the Nigerians failed to raise their game and spurned the chance of making it to the second round.
It was an agonizing end to a campaign, which went wrong from the opening game with a loss to Argentina, a defeat to Greece, with the now infamous kickout to a Greece player by Sanni Kaita, which earned him a red card and a harrowing draw against South Korea.
'' ''Nigeria crashes out of World Cup'' (DAILY INDEPENDENT); ''Nigeria Out!'' (TRIBUNE); ''Eagles crash out of World Cup'' (THE SUN) and ''Finally, Nigeria bows out of World Cup'' (THE VANGUARD) were some of the other headlines.