Interview: Samson Siasia reveals the most talented Super Eagles player he coached, his preference for Osimhen, World Cup

Interview: Samson Siasia reveals the most talented Super Eagles player he coached, his preference for Osimhen, World Cup

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  • Regarded as one of Nigeria's classiest forward, Samson Siasia was a key member of the Super Eagles at the team's peak in the nineties.

Siasia helped the Super Eagles win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations trophy in Tunisia and qualify for Nigeria's first appearance at the World Cup.

The former striker scored the Super Eagles' only goal in the 2-1 loss to Argentina at the tournament proper.

More than two decades after quitting football, the ex-Nantes star featuring at the World Cup is the height of his achievement in the game.

"Every football player wants to play in what? In the World Cup!" Siasia told EaglesTracker in a no-holds-barred interview.

"That's the ultimate. There's nothing like the World Cup. As a football player, you never had a chance to play in the World Cup; you think something is missing.

"Look at what George Weah did. He was one of the best in Europe and Africa, but he never played in the World Cup. I think he is still kicking himself right now as president of Liberia that 'I did everything I could, but I didn't play in the World Cup'.

"Every footballer's dream is to play in the World Cup, nothing else. I'm glad to be a part of the 1994 squad that did very well then. And I scored a goal.

"I'm going to be in the history books. They cannot take that name away; they can't take that goal away from me. I thank God that Nigerians appreciate what we did back then."

Siasia switched playing for coaching and, in 2005, was appointed the head coach of the Flying Eagles. The former Lokeren man guided the team to the finals of the 2005 Under-20 World Cup and the U-20 African Youth Championship, winning the latter.

Siasia also coaches the Nigeria u-23 teams to two silver medal finishes at the Olympic Games, to become one of Nigeria's most successful indigenous coaches.

But Siasia's two stints as interim coach of the Super Eagles were not as productive, and the retired former gives the reasons why.

"I have never coached the Super Eagles the way I had with the U20s and the Olympic teams," Siasia said. "I had time to build the teams. The two times I coached the Super Eagles were like one month. Someone ran away, and they were looking for someone to replace him.

"They have never given me the Super Eagles position from the beginning. Two times, Lars Lagerback, after the World Cup in South Africa, took off from there he ran away. And the Super Eagles had matches to play, and they asked me to come in.

"The other time was Sunday Oliseh that disappeared in the middle of everything. They asked me to come in. Then I was coaching the Olympics team.

"I've never been given the Super Eagles job from the beginning before. But some people said I have failed already, though. But that's their problem. I have done my best to show Nigerians that I'm a very good coach when given the time and opportunity to do the right things."

Siasia remains invested in the Nigerian national team, one of Africa's most valuable squads.

Napoli forward Victor Osimhen is Samson Siasia's favourite player of the present crop of the Super Eagles squad because of his fighting spirit.

Siasia said: "Osimhen is a fighter. He's a goalscorer. When Osimhen is on the field of play, he doesn't joke. He means business. Those are the players you want to be part of. He's been successful. Look at what he's doing. He has worked hard to get there, and he's doing very well."

Of all the players Siasia has ever handled, former Nigeria international Chinedu Ogbuke stands out for the coach as the most talented player.

"Chinedu Ogbuke was exciting to watch," Siasia noted.

"The boy has so many tricks that even you, as a coach, don't understand when he pulls out one of those tricks.

"We had a great time coaching kids like that. He was very good. He was phenomenal. He was exceptional. When he has the ball at his feet, he can use both feet, left or right. We had other youngsters that were good, but he was up there at the top."

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