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Nigeria names new soccer coach - 2002-08-06


The Nigeria Football Association announced the appointment in Abuja, naming former national team captain Christian Chukwu as chief coach of "The Super Eagles."

Chukwu will be assisted by another former Eagles player, Austin Eguavoen, as well as Amusa Adisa. Their contract will last up to the 2004 African Nations Cup, to be hosted by Tunisia.

The new Super Eagles officials were selected from a short list of 16 candidates who were interviewed for the job in Abuja. Their immediate task is to prepare the team for next month's 2004 African Nations Cup qualifier against Angola.

Chukwu takes over from Adegboye Onigbinde, who took the Super Eagles to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Onigbinde and his four assistants were sacked after the Eagles failed, for the first time in three consecutive World Cup finals, to reach the second round in Japan.

The new chief coach comes with a lot of experience, having previously served on the coaching crew of the Super Eagles. Chukwu, who was born in 1952, was assistant coach of the Eagles when they won the African Nations Cup in 1994 in Tunisia. Fans of the Super Eagles are hoping Chukwu will help them win the title again in Tunisia in 2004.

Chukwu, who also served as the head coach of the Kenyan national team, "The Harambee Stars," was the Eagles skipper between 1978 and 1980, when Nigeria hosted and won the Nations Cup for the first time.

But even in his capacity as chief coach, Chukwu will still serve under a foreign team manager, expected to be employed by the football association within the next month. The arrangement of having a local chief coach serve under a foreign team manager has been criticized in some quarters, but the football association seems determined to go along with the plan.

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