I have been waiting for Sunday Oliseh’s side of the story before commenting on the Enyeanma-Oliseh face-off. What Oliseh has so far put out is underwhelming and disappointing. Moreover, he does not really dispute the thrust of Enyeanma’s story.
Disputed minor details and ego clashes aside, the facts of the trouble seem be that, 1) Oliseh stripped Enyeanma of the captaincy publicly in the presence of other (junior) players, a public humiliation that shows a lack of tact and wisdom on the coach’s part, and 2) that Enyeanma had a valid reason for reporting to camp a day late, having just buried his mother, a tragic family event that should have even excused him from this camp.
If Oliseh does not intend to work with Enyeanma as captain, that is well within his prerogative as coach, but he was wrong not to have told Enyeanma ahead of the team meeting, and to announce this decision to the team out of the blue without having sat down, man to man, with Enyeama to discuss this. Even if it was a spur of the moment decision to punish Enyeanma for his lateness, it was wrong as it shows Oliseh to be an impulsive decision maker, not a careful, deliberative one.
Oliseh was also wrong to have told the team that he was not expecting Enyeanma in camp. The goalkeeper was duly invited to camp. He could have excused himself to continue mourning his late mother, but he reported patriotically to camp. Oliseh should have applauded this patriotic gesture and seen it as an indication of Enyeanma’s continued commitment to the national team, regardless of what Enyeanma might have told him at lunch in France about retiring from the national team.
Diplomacy and wisdom go a long way in making football managers successful. The job is as much about managing rich adults with egos as it is about building teams and developing tactics. Oliseh dropped the ball–pun intended.
And no, Enyeanma did not accuse him of insulting his mother. Enyeanma was right to be angry at the way he was treated in front of his teammates, especially when he could have legitimately stayed away from camp to continue with the funerary rites of his late mother. I would be similarly furious.
I don’t think this error warrants a sacking; Oliseh has no real coaching experience and is learning on the job. The learning curve will be rough but he will learn from his mistakes and should be allowed to grow into the job unless the results on the field are disastrous.
What is needed is mediation. The relationship between the two should be mended with the help of NFF mediators and Enyeanma, the aggrieved party in my opinion, should be placated, modified, and persuaded to resume his international career.
The matter of the captaincy can be easily resolved by restoring Enyeama to his role as leader, with Musa being appointed as his deputy. Enyeama has very few years left in his international career and should be allowed to retire as captain as others before him were while his playing time is reduced to make way for young goalies. In a few years when Enyeama retires honorably, Musa should take over as captain.