Former Orlando Pirates players have been left shocked and dismayed by the sudden death of Bucs’ Nigerian ex-coach Shaibu Amodu so soon after the passing of countryman and playing and coaching legend Stephen Keshi
Amodu‚ the Nigerian Football Federation’s technical director and six times a coach of the Super Eagles‚ died on Saturday. The ex-Bucs coach‚ who led the team in the 1997-98 season‚ had complained of chest pains on Friday night and reportedly died in his sleep aged 58.
This came just three days after fellow Nigeria national team coach and former captain and defender Keshi died aged 54.
Former Pirates strikers Jerry Sikhosana and Andries Sebola‚ who played under Amodu‚ said the Nigerian’s passing had saddened them.
Amodu’s assistant at Pirates‚ Zambian Ronald Mkandawire‚ died in 2002.
“That’s news to me now‚” Sikhosana said when told about Amodu’s death at a coaching clinic he was conducting in Tembisa on Saturday.
“Keshi died on my birthday three days ago. I was supposed to enjoy my day on June 8 but he died that morning and it was a sad day for me.”
Sikhosana said he and Amodu had their differences at first.
“The first day when he was introduced to the players I was late‚” Sikhosana said.
“And when I sat down‚ he just said‚ ‘Ja‚ I know you are Jerry. I have been told about you always being late and problematic. But now I’m here and I’m going to make you understand the importance of being early’.
“And I was furious with him because I didn’t know who he was‚ and here was this guy mentioning my name and telling me now he’s going to be my coach. And before we could even greet each other he had a problem.
“But from there we got along very well. And he was a great lad. He understood and knew what he wanted in terms of the players.
“He brought a more physical style to Pirates‚ and especially to the strikers. He brought in physical strikers like Chris Nwakori and Sonny Opara.
“I learnt a lot form those guys. That’s why I started being more aggressive and powerful‚ and knowing what I wanted in football.
“Amodu was a great lad. He would have those one-on-ones with players. He wouldn’t want to be regarded as a coach. He would want to be a brother and somebody who was there to help.
“And I really appreciated him after his first altercation where we didn’t get along. At one stage I had to stay away from training‚ but he sent somebody to come and pick me up at home‚ and then we got along very well.”
Sebola said Amodu struggled to adapt to coaching South African players‚ who prefer a technical approach to a physical one.
“I’ve just seen it on the websites that Amodu is gone. It’s a bad thing for Nigerian football‚” Sebola said.
“He was a good coach but he tried to bring the physical style to Pirates. He came with two strikers [Nwakori and Opara] and tried to implement the physicality of Nigerian football to the strikers and the Pirates team as a whole.
“But his style of play did help us strikers in terms of being aggressive and creating chances for each other. Physically he helped us a lot.
“As a person he was a gentleman. I was happy working under him and Ronald Ronald Mkandawire. Amodu did a good job for Pirates but unfortunately results did not come for him.
“It’s bad that Mkandawire died young‚ now Amodu has died. Maybe there is a big team that they are building there [in the afterlife].
“But it’s sad news‚ especially for we Africans. We lost Keshi‚ now it’s Amodu. It’s a bad situation but may their souls rest in peace.”
Amodu coached Nigeria in six stints‚ the last as caretaker taking over from the perennially-fired Keshi in 2015. He qualified the Super Eagles for the 2002 and 2010 World Cups‚ but did not take the team to either tournament.