Nigeria coach Sunday Oliseh defends Vincent Enyeama decision
Nigeria coach Sunday Oliseh has told ESPN FC that he stripped Vincent Enyeama of the captaincy because the goalkeeper was already thinking about retirement.
Enyeama, 33, announced his retirement from international football earlier this week having told ESPN FC that he had been disrespected by Oliseh in the way he was informed that he would be losing the armband.
The goalkeeper, who has made a record 101 appearances for the Super Eagles, was not part of the squad that lost 2-0 to Congo DR in Thursday night's friendly.
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Contrary to initial reports, Enyeama's late arrival to camp was not the issue at the root of the confrontation between the pair, but Oliseh's decision to hand the Super Eagles captain's armband to Ahmed Musa.
Enyeama reported to camp after attending his mother's funeral, and according to both player and coach, he was given a good reception.
"We were very happy to see him," Oliseh told ESPN FC. "He had just buried his mum and to be honest, I didn't even expect him to be in camp. I thought he would call and say he was staying back to deal with family issues.
"We are Africans and we know that times like this, a lot of family stuff comes up, and for someone like him, it would be even harder. So he could have been excused if he had stayed back."
However, at the post-dinner team meeting that evening, Oliseh laid into his players, furious that they had not shown enough fire and hunger in training. At the end, he announced that he had taken a decision to keep Musa, who had been acting in Enyeama's absence, as team captain.
Enyeama says he stood up to ask for an explanation, but that it was "humiliating" not being able to give his side and his protestations saw him asked to leave.
"I told him that this was not the right time," Oliseh explained. "That we could discuss it later. But he kept insisting loudly that he wanted to talk.
"So I told him we could either leave the hall for him, or he would have to leave. When he continued, I opened the door and asked him to leave.
"Some of the other players, Musa, [Emmanuel] Emenike, [John Obi] Mikel and [Ogenyi] Onazi were holding him and asking him to calm down. You can confirm from any of them.
"At no point did security get anywhere near him. Unless the players above are now security."
Nigerian FA president Amaju Pinnick phoned from Nigeria and spoke to both coach and player, resolving the issue as Oliseh agreed to allow Enyeama stay in the camp.
But the coach would not budge on his decision to strip him of the captaincy.
"When I took over as coach, Enyeama was the first person I went to see," he told ESPN FC. "I drove to Lille, took him out to lunch and discussed my plans and philosophy going forward.
"While we were talking, he mentioned his plans to retire in about a year or two. I told him I was building a team and he should not talk about retirement now.
"On three separate occasions when we talked, including before the Tanzania game, he kept talking about retirement. That was when I made up my mind to appoint a captain I could count on for the long run.
"I cannot have a captain who is thinking about retirement. I want one who will lead the team into the future. That's why I took that decision."