BY KUNLE SOLAJA
Austin Eguavoen has been handed a second chance to guide the Super Eagles to the Africa Cup of Nations. If he does well, he will likely be the one to handle the team in the play-off for a place at the Qatar 2022 World Cup and possibly win a long-term contract.
He was a former hard-tackling Super Eagles’ fullback and had assisted Christian Chukwu in the qualifying series for the 2006 World Cup before taking over from his boss.
Though relatively quiet, he has a way of getting to the record books. He was the first Nigerian to handle a European club when as a coach/player he led Selima Wonderers to a second place in the league of Malta.
As a player, he was the only Russia-based among the 704 footballers at the France ’98 World Cup. A Russian journalist told Kunle Solaja at the France ’98 that his major assignment was to give ‘full coverage’ for Eguavoen. He however played just one match, the last group game against Paraguay.
As a national team player, he was in action for 11 years since his debut as a substitute for Waidi Akani in a 4 July 1987 Africa Cup of Nations tie against Sierra Leone in Lagos.
He played for Torpedo Moscow in Russia, Belgian sides of AA Ghent and FC Kortik. He was in the Nigerian squad at the USA ’94 and also at the France ’98.
As a youth coach, Eguavoen he led the Golden Eaglets to the 2003 edition of the World Youth Championship where he handed Mikel Obi his first international appearance at youth level.
It was also under Eguavoen that Mikel Obi had the debut in the Super Eagles during a match with Libya on 17 August 2005.
When he took over from Chukwu as manager of the Super Eagles in 2005, though he was a defender as a player, Eguavoen appeared to be offensive-inclined.
He had some good results as Super Eagles scored a staggering 10 goals in two matches. Unfortunately, Nigeria still narrowly slipped in the qualifying series for the 2006 World Cup.
He is the only coach to have led the Super Eagles to beat Algeria at home when his team beat the North Africans 5-2 in Oran on 4 September 2005.