Former Everton, Club Brugge and Besiktas FC player Daniel Amokachi who in late January took over management of Finnish second division side JS Hercules says he hopes a good stint with the Finnish club will help African coaches be employed by European clubs in the future.
The job, which Amokachi describes as “the biggest challenge” of his managerial career is a herculean one compared to his jobs in the past majorly with the Super Eagles, but he said he is getting to grips with the job at hand. In this exclusive interview with FIFA.com. Amokachi also revealed that the Super Eagles failure on the continental stage is due to a ‘mental
“Freezing was the not the word, that’s an understatement – it was
minus 35 degrees [Celsius] when I arrived!” he laughs.
“I was leaving a country that was roasting, about 38 degrees when I
left Nigeria. The day before I traveled, I checked the weather
forecast with my wife and she joked: ‘Do you really want to go?’
[laughs] I said ‘Of course!’. The weather in Finland is an obstacle
but with all obstacles when you’re trying to achieve something, you
throw them out the window.
“The outdoor pitches are frozen and everything we do at the moment is
indoor. You have a number of other teams using those facilities and
it’s hard to get a full pitch to yourself, which can make the program
you’re trying to lay down difficult. But I am a Nigerian, an African.
I’m used to challenges and I would love to see it through.”
“It is my first experience as an African manager coaching in Europe
and there are not many Africans who are head coaches in Europe,”
“They are giving me a platform as an African to showcase what I can do
and if I do well, it’s an open door for other African coaches.”.
Talking On Nigeria’s inability to qualify for AFCON 2017 and why
Nigerian players perform badly when donning the National team colors
compared to their club sides, Amokachi said;
“The players when return to play in Africa on international duty
forget to switch [mentally]. It’s something that we kind of struggle
with, not only as Nigerians, but as Africans,”
“You play in Europe and everything you get is professional from A-Z
and then when you come to Africa, the likes of transportation and
accommodation can seem a distraction.
said Amokachi, who was assistant coach of the national team when they
last won the tournament in 2013.
“The players forget to switch to being an African when they come back
and that always makes them perform less than what they do at club
level. I’m sure that has contributed to Nigeria not making it to
back-to-back championships. Not qualifying for the tournament is not
good enough for a country like Nigeria, but that’s football. It makes
you sit up and say: ‘We have a lot of work that needs to be done.’”