Mansur Abdullahi is the former Super Falcons' assistant coach to Uche Eucharia-led technical crew. He was relieved of his appointment in a controversial manner alongside his boss, Uche and some other members for alleged indiscipline. While his boss was recalled to the Super Falcons as chief coach and others moved to other national teams, he was abandoned. In this exclusive interview with Leadership Weekend's Salifu Usman, he opens up on his controversial removal and other issues.
How does it feel to be part of the Super Falcons' technical crew that were wrongly dismissed by former NFF board?
I can't say wrongly but somehow, it happened that I was the only person that was not recalled back after our suspension during the Sani Lulu led board.
Do you feel any form of victimisation especially after those who were alleged to have committed the same offence as you were recalled to national teams?
That was a clear picture of what happened, but I don't want to mention names here. That very time, I sustained an injury while on national duty which up till this moment, was not treated. But one way or the other, somebody felt I was not supposed to be there and was sent packing. As a Muslim, I have taken it in good fate and sees it as the will of God.
I give God the glory that I was sent packing from the Super Falcons not because of sex scandal or bribery which is very rampant in our national teams. I started from the youth U-13 female team before I was moved to the male U-13 team. After a stint with male the U-13 team, I was appointed assistant coach to the Super Falcons team B and from there, I was drafted to the Super Falcons to assist Uche Eucharia. In all my assignments with the national teams, I have never been found wanting of anything, either on sex scandal which is so rampant in this country, especially in female teams.
What really happened then?
During the NFF board under Sani Lulu, we used FIFA Goal project training pitch at the National Stadium, Abuja for training. Also, the FIFA U-17 World Cup was about to be hosted in Nigeria and all the national teams including the male U-13 team, the Golden Eaglets and Super Falcons were camping in Abuja and we were all using one training pitch which was the Goal Project for training. The U-13 team had trained from 6:00am to 8:00am in morning and we were supposed to start training from 8:30 to 10:30am, but 10 minutes after 8:00 am, they said Lulu visited the training site and could not see any of us, that we were late for the training despite arriving the training venue 15 minutes after 8:00 am.
On that very fateful day, there was also a heavy downpour and we had no competition at hand. The ethics of the job said that, if it is raining and you have not started training, you suspend the training because you will not get the best of the players and besides, these were female players. You cannot imaging how many of them were having their monthly period. The secretary of the team then did not stay in the camp with us. All he does was to come to the hotel in the morning with the driver to pick the team doctor to the field and leaving the technical crew behind.
So, there was no proper communication between us and the football house. We were not even informed that the president of the federation is going to visit the team and if it is not an act of sabotage, I expected that we should have been properly communicated to that the president of the federation is going to visit or watch the team training by this date and time. But somehow, somebody just came and said we were late for training and were all suspended.
I respect Amanze Uchegbulam, Sani Lulu and even Taiwo Ogunjobi who was the technical committee chairman then. Lulu said he was not going to sack anybody but will spread us across all the national teams and Ogunjobi said he should leave us to work. But to our surprise, in September or October 2009, they asked all of us to go, that they will get back at us. Before that, James Peter who was the secretary of the technical committee, asked us to write on how we think the Super Falcons can be revived. We all wrote and submitted it to him
After submitting the documents in October, I heard that there was going to be an interview for national team coaches' job and everybody including my colleagues who were suspended, were invited and I was not. Some friends and best wishers said I should just go there and try my luck, but I said no. since I was not invited for the interview, I will not go there to beg for a job. I know my capability and if they can't invite me for the job on merit, I will not beg them for the it. That was how I left the national team and as I said earlier, I give God the glory that I did not leave the national team because of sex scandal or bribery or insubordination. Nobody can walk to me and say this was my offence or this was why I left the national team.
You keep mentioning sex scandal. Were there any such cases in the national teams?
There were sex scandal and bribery in our national teams and some of us have been sent packing because of it, but I don't want to mention names. Some coaches have also been sent packing from the national team because of indiscipline and insubordination to their superior. Uche Eucharia is still alive and anybody can find out from her if I have ever been rude or disobedient to her.
Up till this moment, I still call her and she picks my calls even when she is outside this country for any tournament. She calls me her brother and I call her my sister, because we both had a good working relationship.I am very proud of myself that throughout my years in female football, no player has accused me of any sexual attempt on her or that I collected bribery from her, even at the club level. If a player is good, she is good, I don't need to approach her for sex or money to make my team. In 2009, I was humiliated in Bayelsa Queens just because of a player who was sent packing by the management for indiscipline and to turn me to help her with all sorts of promises, including offering herself to me, but I resisted all her attempts and said, 'no'. Before I knew it, she sent hoodlums to attack me. It was reported in Sporting life and Sun Newspapers of December 2009. I have the documents there in my house to show anybody.
After your exit from the Super Falcons, it has been a mixture of success and failure for the team. Do you think you would have made a difference with the team especially at the World Cup in which they were sent packing at the group stage?
It was unfortunate that the team did not go beyond first round at the World Cup and I don't think I would have made any difference because I was to assist the coach. Even after I was sent packing from the team, I still give my contributions to the technical crew. Any time there was competition, I do call Uche and advice her on what to do. It is a team work and as far as I am concern, this was the best result the team has recorded so far in FIFA women World Cup. Go and check the record. In 2003 what happened? In 2007 it was total a embarrassment to the whole country because instead of playing their game, they were busy fighting on bonuses and allowances in South Korea. That was why you saw us conceding 5-0, 4-0 and 6-0 against our opponents.
In the last tournament the highest goal we conceded against an opponent was 1-0. The last time we played Canada in 2007, it was a draw, but in our last match we beat them, which was a great improvement from the past. So, I believe the team has done their best and if given the chance, I can still make my contribution to the team.
What have you been doing since then?
After my being sent packing from the national team?
It is not over until it is over. After I was sent packing from the national team, I applied for a job at Sunshine Queens but unfortunately, I was not given because of Nigerian factors. I still went to Bayelsa Queens and out 10 people that applied for the job; I was given a job as technical adviser of Bayelsa Queens. But before the season came to an end, I was fired again by the club management. Not because I didn't do my job well but for a reason and mentality I can't really explain.
I came back home and I just can't stay like that. I went back to my youth academy, Puma based in Karu, Abuja. When I was in town, everyone knew about Puma Academy and this was a place where people like Nosa Igebor, Rabiu Ibrahim, Danjuma Paul, Solomon Owelo, Kenneth Omerou and Sani Tairu who just made the U-20 national team to Columbia passed though, they are my products.
I also assist my friends, Alaba Yahaya who is the chief coach of Supreme Court football club. I approached him to give my contribution to the team and he accepted me. I am so happy that I am in voluntary service to Supreme Court FC and they don't pay me but appreciate my contributions. I remain grateful to the chief coach who is also the chairman of FCT Football Coaches Association, other members of the technical crew, the players and his former sports club officials for giving me the chance to showcase my talent.
Interview by Salifu Usman