Former Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh is called the African Guardiola because of his insight to the game, but the late Stephen Keshi deserves to be called the African Mourinho.
Guardiola is the perfectionist, the philosopher while Jose Mourinho is the pragmatist, the defense specialist, a special one and ego filled psychological genius.
What more could seperate them but the fact that they have both worked at Barcelona together, then separate; while Pep led the Catalans and Mourinho their eternal rivals in Real Madrid.
Both are now in England and coaching the country’s two richest clubs, the historical Manchester United is led by the Portuguese and ‘noisy neighbours’ led by the Spaniard.
Similarities between Mourinho and Guardiola are not far fetched. As with most coaches today, both were once assistant coaches at one point in their career’s.
But their similarities are more with their personalities and man management skills. Keshi had his favourites with the national team, like Mourinho has had with different players at clubs at different points of his career.
One perfect example is Super Eagles goalie Chigozie Agbim. Keshi persisted with the shot stopper despite the availability of better players.
The ‘Big Boss’ as late Keshi was fondly called was loyal to a particular group of players and was not one to change things dramatically via his line up or his starting formation for matches.
Mourinho almost never changes his line ups or formations even during matches. The former Real Madrid coach has persisted with a 4-2-3-1 formation since his Madrid days, sometimes doing so when he does not have the players to execute such formation.
Guardiola on the other hand changes thing before, during and before the next match though he favours a 4-3-3 set up.
Keshi’s principles could be likened to that of Mourinho
Like Mourinho, Keshi was a ‘stubborn’ coach. He rebels against authorities and is never afraid to say his mind. What Mourinho is to the FA or UEFA, Keshi is to the NFF.
With Mourinho’s various run in with authorities think the number of times Keshi was appointed and sacked as Super Eagles coach.
Additionally, Keshi is a serial winner like Mourinho is. The Portuguese achieved the unbelievable with Inter Milan back in 2010 when he defeated Guardiola’s all conquering Barcelona side.
Keshi made sure he was not left out by leading the Super Eagles to 2013 AFCON glory.
He did this despite the fact that the Super Eagles were unfancied and the NFF reportedly booked a flight back to Nigeria for the players and coaches before the quarter-final clash against Ivory Coast which Nigeria won via a Sunday Mba stunner.
It is safe to say that Keshi deserved more recognition before he died from the media, fans, and the Federal Government and to this writer, he would always be the African Mourinho.