By Isaac Orieka & Alphonsus Effi
“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.”
Samson Siasia, former Nigerian football striker, was born August 14, 1967 in Ghana, but the family came back to Nigeria to settle down and they lived at No. 4, Brambaifa Street, new Alayabiagba market then, in Ajegunle, Apapa, Lagos. The Siasia family are from Bayelsa State, Odoni Village, a riverside town in Sagbama Local Government Area.
Though, he attended the Anglican Primary School (Isoko), Marine. Beach, Apapa, Lagos. He was outstanding among his peers in the game of football. As a growing kid in Ajegunle, he helped his parent in hawking to sustain the family, but had the ambition of becoming a great footballer in future.
In his neighbourhood, he had a stint with the Strikers Football Club and also played for the LAFA- Division 1 team where matches are hosted at the UAC ground now known as Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. By faith and hard work he developed his footballing career at the Navy football ground, Ajegunle, with other youths like Tarilla Okorowanta, Alphonsus Akhahon, Jumbo Awala, Peter Nieketen, Emmanuel Owusu, Benson Edema among many others.
During his playing career at club level, Siasia played for FC Nantes a French team, where the team became league champion in 1994/1995. He joined an Australian club Perth Glory with another Nigerian footballer, Peter Anosike, including several other clubs in Belgium, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
His football skills earned him an admission into Gaskiya College, Lagos, played the Principals Cup Competition which exposes students who are gifted in the round leather game for openings in Local Clubs, like Shooting Stars FC, Black-Wood Hudge FC, Stationary Stores and other football clubss. He joined Leventis United where he proved his depth-of-field and vibrant trust with the ultimate focal point of excelling by applying the native Nigerian spirit which was accepted by foreign clubs.
Siasia, played 51 international matches for Nigeria and scored thirteen goals. He was part of the Super Eagles team that participated in the 1994 FIFA World Cup and won the 1994 African Cup of Nations. He was also a member of the team that won Bronze at the 1992 Nations Cup, in Senegal.
They say picture speaks a thousand words depicting a purview of how Siasia has excelled in the game of football. The Bayelsa born footballer has exhibited moments of excitement, when in November 2009, the Yenogoa Township Stadium was named in his honour for awakening an incredible face in the game. Siasia, coached the Flying Eagles U-20 team in 2005, where they got to the finals of both the 2005 U-20 World Cup and U-20 African Youth Championship. As the Coach, he lost to Argentina at the Final, 2-1. He also assisted Augustine Eguavoen in the Super Eagles.
In January 2007, Siasia was appointed the national U-23 Coach, while in 2008 he also handled the U-23 Olympic Squad against Argentina. He went beyond the performance of so many other coaches, by winning the Olympic Silver Medal. Also in 2008, the U-23 team won the inaugural Intercontinental Cup in Malaysia. The team was composed of entirely home based players and won the cup against many teams that qualified for the 2008 summer Olympic games. In addition, with his superb dynamic entrepreneurial vision, he developed a youth academy in Abuja, Nigeria, called Sia One Soccer Academy.
He was reappointed on 17, 2009 as the head coach of the U-20 team but finished third in the 2009 African Youth Championship. He got a Six-month contract to coach Heartland F.C in July 2010. On the 4th of November 2010, he was named as the national team coach to succeed Swedish Lars Lagerback. He was sacked for his inability to take Nigeria to the 2012 African Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, on 28, October 2011.
In February 26, 2016, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), appointed Siasia as the Chief Coach of the national team, the Super Eagels, assisted by Salisu Yusuf, Emmanuel Amunike and Alloysius Agu after the resignation of Sunday Oliseh. In February 2017, he was one of the mangers shortlisted for the Rwadan manager position. So also, in April 2018, he was among 77 applicants who applied for the vacant Cameroon National Team Job.
WHAT IS MATCH FIXING?
In organised sports, match fixing occurs as a match played to a completely or partially pre-determined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law. The most common reason is to obtain a payoff from gamblers, but teams may also intentionally perform poorly to gain a future advantage, such as a better draft pick or, on paper, a less eminent opponent in a play-off. A player might also play poorly to rig a handicap system. It is motivated by gambling, requires contacts (and normally money transfers) between gamblers, players, team officials, and/or referees. These contacts and transfers can sometimes be found, and lead to prosecution by the law or the sports league(s). According to WIKIPEDIA.
FIFA, the international football governing body, in charge of the round leather game, on 16, August 2019 banned Siasia from all football activities for life over alleged match-fixing investigation. FIFA’S independent ethics committee stated that the former Nigerian coach pleaded guilty of accepting bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches which is a violation of the code of ethics of FIFA.
FIFA’S BAN ON SIASIA
With the detail highlights of Siasia’s achievements in the game, one is of the opinion that Siasia should have a singular standard sense and ethics guiding the game whether as a footballer or football administrator or even as a coach and manager.
FIFA, has proven from time that it does not support offenses relating to match fixing, hosting rites and bribe taking. It works with a perfect unison, applying all the rules and regulations legally to protect the game and its image. No matter the position and country you come from, FIFA goes beyond the simple black-and-white operation, it sensors the game with a view to curb all manners of corruption.
The ruling body handed Siasia a life time ban relating to match fixing, in August 2019, Mr. Siasia is FIFA wrong or right in its decision? You said you will clear your name of any wrong doing by appealing to the world body. Recall, that the former FIFA President, Sep Blatter, John Fashanu, Michel Platini, and Amos Adamu, including so many others who were exposed for corrupt football malpractices never restored their images back and lost all they laboured for.
It is pertinent to say begin to re-adjust to FIFA’s sledge hammer. It is painful, you will lose energy, money, long litigation processes, and even other private businesses which you have invested in apart from football. Do not be deceived, explore other opportunities of facing the hard challenges ahead of you so that you can strike a balanced lifestyle.
Finally, pursue your case having faith in God that you will come out clean from the match fixing ban, powered by a connectivity of unlocking FIFA’s life threatening career that you laboured to build for generations unborn to emulate.