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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
A familiar story for Onigbinde
Onigbinde is the new Super Eagles coach
Onigbinde is the new Super Eagles coach
Nigeria coach Festus Adegboyega Onigbinde might only have been appointed a few months ago, but he is no stranger to the job.

Ongibinde first coached the Super Eagles in 1982, when he was handed the responsibility of restoring confidence and self-belief to the side.

Nigeria, winners of the 1980 African Nations Cup, had crashed out of the 1982 tournament in the first round.

The side had also failed to qualify for the 1982 World Cup, following an aggregate 3-1 defeat by Algeria.

There were strident calls by the public to overhaul the team.

Many fans strongly suggested that each Nigerian town should, at least, have one player in the Super Eagles camp.

To pacify them, Onigbinde invited 250 players from different parts of the country.

But there was a lack of belief in the coach and most of his players, resulting in low morale.

In camp, training balls, jersies and medical facilities were inadequate.

'Papa Eagles'

Players earned about two dollars in daily training allowances and not more than $10 in match bonuses.

Subsequently, many players reported late to camp or never turned up at all.

But Onigbinde used his coaching methods, criticised as unorthodox, to raise a slightly formidable side.

His team, derisively labelled "Papa Eagles", managed to record wins over Morocco and Ghana and Egypt - African football powerhouses at the time.

Wining silver at the 1984 Nations Cup following their 3-1 defeat to Cameroon was his best achievement.

But 18 years later, the coach has returned to the hot seat and finds himself in a similar situation.

Only this time, the platform is bigger and the stakes are much higher.

Nigeria won the 1994 Nations Cup and the 1996 Olympic Games football title, as well as reaching two World Cup tournaments.

Onigbinde, replacing Amodu Shaibu, knows it will be hard, but is looking forward to being the first indigenous coach to manage the Super Eagles at the World Cup finals.

A lot will still be expected of Nigeria, who are playing in the so-called 'group of death' with Argentina, England and Sweden.

Pay row

Over the years, Nigerian players have become big stars, playing for major overseas clubs, and earning fat salaries.

Nowadays in Super Eagles camp, the players get daily training allowances of $100 and bonuses of $5,000 per game.

In the past, Onigbinde used to run like a headless chicken to get adequate training facilities for the team.

It will be different this time as the situation has largely improved, but he has to find a way to defuse the constant tensions that buffet the Super Eagles, such as rows over money.

A poor outing at the World Cup could make Onigbinde's managerial tenure a very short one.

But the manager insists he is not intimidated by the responsibility that has been placed upon him.

"My tenure as coach [after the World Cup] depends on the NFA and the general public's reaction to my performance. But I don't want to cross a river until I get to it."

" Let me concentrate on the job at hand and that will determine my future in the job."

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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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