Nigerian journalists who covered the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco all returned with rave reviews for Super Eagles coach Salisu Yusuf.
As Chief Coach of the Super Eagles, Yusuf in charge of the home-based Super Eagles side, the Nigeria U-23 team and is also the assistant to Gernot Rohr for the main Super Eagles team.
After finishing second at the 2017 WAFU in Ghana-Nigeria lost 4-1 in the final to host Ghana-Yusuf put together a team from the players in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) to Morocco for CHAN 2018.
After a slow start, the Super Eagles Team B improved as the tournament went on before the disappointing 0-4 loss to host Morocco in the final.
The defeat opened up the conversations of the huge difference in quality between players in the NPFL and other African leagues.
In all of the criticisms and analysis after that final, Yusuf was held in high regards and praised for a job well done.
Most of the Nigerian journalists that travelled to cover the CHAN 2018 in Morocco purred over the Kaduna State-born coach.
The journos had only good things to say about his tactics, man-management style and training sessions. Many of them opined that Nigeria’s run to the final was just down to the manager. “He made the players way better,” one of the journalists told me.
For Yusuf, the rave reviews post-CHAN 2018 were a confirmation of the obvious progress he was making in his coaching career.
After all, this was a coach that had temporarily managed the Super Eagles and was even considered before the appointment of Rohr.
From his days at Kano Pillars where he won the NPFL title in 2008 to Enyimba where he led them to domestic cup success, Yusuf has always shown to have a good understanding of the game.
He also served as an assistant manager of the Super Eagles under Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh and Samson Siasia.
Legacy tarnished by greed
Rated by almost everyone, Yusuf is one of the most respected and like coaches in Nigerian football but all that has been tarnished by greed.
A man who was once considered for the Super Eagles and tipped to take over the national team one day, Yusuf is in the eye of the storm after being caught on camera taking money-N360, 000 ($1000)- from investigative journalists posing as agents who wanted their players selected for the 2018 CHAN.
He met the reporters in September 2017 in Ghana just before his Super Eagles Team B side will lose 4-1 in the final of the WAFU Cup to the host.
“So if anything goes through and these players are able to get their contracts, you will get 15% of that contract,” one of the reporters posing as an agent told Yusuf to which he replied; “they will be in CHAN.”
The consequences would be very damaging if FIFA, CAF and NFF find him guilty of breaching FIFA or NFF ethics code.
He has claimed that him collecting the gift falls within FIFA and NFF ethics code.
But no matter the outcome of this case, Yusuf’s coaching career has been given a huge dent. He now risks a ban from the game if found guilty by FIFA or corresponding football bodies.
If he is not found guilty, it will be hard for Yusuf to recover from the dark cloud that will hang over his head from this case.
Either way, one of the most liked men in Nigerian football has ruined his career all by himself.