5 December 2011

Nigeria: Austin Eguavoen Quits as Under-23 Soccer Coach

Photo: Leadership
Members of Nigeria's Under 23 soccer team.

Morocco — Nigeria's Under-23 coach Austin Eguavoen has quit after failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The so-called 'Dream Team V' crashed out in the group stages of the qualifying tournament in Morocco after losing twice and winning just once.

The 46-year-old leaves after Nigeria, runners-up at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, finished third.

In a resignation letter, Eguavoen cited the qualifying failure for the London Games as his reason to quit.

"I hereby resign my post as coach of the national U23 team despite all the support I received from the NFF," Eguavoen told the NFF.

"I'm so sorry I couldn't make it. I think it's just honourable for me to resign after failing to meet the set targets."

Addressing the press at a post match press briefing at the Media Centre of Grand Stade de Marrakech on Friday evening, the former Super Eagles handler also apologised to Nigerians over the lack lustre showing of the team in Morocco.

He admitted that he has failed the country by not being able to qualify for the London Games, as contained in his contract papers, adding that he is worried about the pains that Nigerians back home will suffer over the team's poor outing at the CAF U-23 Championship.

"I want to specially thank Nigerians, most people have been behind me especially the media and others who know my worth and my ability in the game. I have never said that I am the best but I have always tried to be among the best. I apologise to Nigerians for our failure. We thought we can do well, but we were surprise over what happened.

"Now that my contract is tied to this tournament and even taking the team to the semi-final stage of the Olympics, I know that it has been cut short. You all know what will happen to me. I am ready for it and I will take a break for some times and probably return to the domestic league," he lamented.

"My regret was not keeping my job but the pains Nigerians are passing through now. It hurts a lot, but we cannot do anything about it now. What happened was that the stage was too big for these boys. I have to also say that the officiating in the game against Morocco was questionable.

"If you observe very correctly, we play well in the second half because we had to go into the dressing room to do a whole lot of talking. The change in the second half was the determinant of the technical input we make in the team. I'm not the type that coach on the side," he noted.

The result has nothing to do with the ability or otherwise of the ex-internationals taking over the national teams. Come to think it, as ex-internationals, we are all Nigerians first.

On the failure of former players to help raise the standard of the country's football as coaches, Eguavoen said coaches should not be engaged because they are former players, but must be based on their acumen and experience to do the job.

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