Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sven-Goran to Nigeria?

This is the coaching rumor du jour. Former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, a leading candidate for the Nigeria job.

He has experience, sure. Five years with England, including the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. A year with Mexico.

However, it wasn't quite as if he covered himself with glory at either place.

He was considered a bit rigid and unimaginative while running the Three Lions program. England tended to do well in matches that weren't high on the pressure scale ... but not nearly as well when the competition was stiff and the match crucial.

To wit: England lost in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup (2-1 to Brazil), lost in the quarterfinals of Euro 2004 (to Portugal on penalties) and lost in the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup (3-1 to Portugal).

Then there were the mini-scandals in his personal life, which seemed to take attention away from the England team. (Some are recounted in his wiki entry.)

And then his one year with Mexico was fairly disastrous. He attempted to turn Mexico into a European-style team, with disastrous results. In 2009, his Mexico teams lost 2-0 to the United States and were crushed 3-1 by Honduras, and he was fired. mexico more or less rejoiced, and immediately went back to being a regional power, qualifying with ease for the World Cup. Once SGE was gone.

So, how would he do in Nigeria? Presumably, their playing style is a bit more like England's than Mexico's (with an emphasis on speed and power, vs. Mexico's guile and technique). Hard to say, though. I still think Bora Milutinivoc, who got Nigeria to the quarterfinals in 1998, would be a better choice.

What Eriksson represents, however, is a high-visibility European coach who presumably could take any pressire off the Nigerian federation. If the team fails, it's that Swede's fault.

Glenn Hoddle apparently is in the running, too. And there may be more.
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