Founder of the John Utaka Academy in Minna, Niger state and Montpellier under-19 coach, John Utaka, has declared his intention to take over from José Peseiro as the manager of the Nigeria Super Eagles in the near future.
Utaka played in 49 matches and scored six goals for the Nigeria national football team between 2001 and 2012. He missed the African Cup of Nations win in 2013 and now has his sights set on winning the AFCON 2023 as manager.
What has been said
Utaka, who retired from football in 2018 after one season with French third tier club CS Sedan Ardennes is currently in the process of getting his UEFA Pro badge.
John Utaka retired from active football at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, and his path to coaching has been incredible.
After starting his academy and being appointed as an assistant coach with the Montpellier U19s, Utaka sets a goal
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— Soccernet.ng (@soccernet_ng) April 25, 2023
This will make him eligible to take up coaching duties at a European club, following in the footsteps of former Super Eagles captain Sunday Oliseh, who managed Eredivisie club Fortuna Sittard, and former goalkeeper Emmanuel Egbo who led FK Tirana to the league title in Albania in 2020.
Utaka, according to the latest Super Eagles news, is looking to give back to his country first before he takes his ambition of winning the UEFA Champions League as a manager seriously, per his most recent interview with German outlet DeutscheWelle (DW). He made this known in an interview with Nigerian football media outlet Soccernet.ng.
Utaka is not limiting himself to the Super Eagles, however, but is also interested in the management roles of the youth sides and even the female teams.
“If the opportunity comes to coach Nigeria in the near future, that is something I would love to embrace as well because that is another way to give back and show your experience with your own country as well,” he said in his chat with Soccernet.ng.
While Utaka may not be on the radar of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) at the moment, he could be a good option in the future for the Flying Eagles and the Golden Eaglets, given his work with grassroot players in his academy in Minna and in French Ligue 1 side Montpellier.
Utaka: A good option for the Nigerian national football team youth sides
The youth team managers have come under fire in recent months. Salisu Yusuf, manager of the under-23 Olympic Eagles, failed to qualify Nigeria for the upcoming Olympic games in 2024 in Paris, France.
There have been talks about replacing Yusuf but nothing concrete is in the media or has been disclosed by the NFF about that decision.
The Flying Eagles led by Ladan Bosso will be participating in the 2023 under-20 FIFA World Cup in Argentina. They have been drawn in the same group with tournament favourites Brazil and Italy, with Dominican Republic making up the group.
They have also been unimpressive but Ladan Bosso is eyeing a move to the Super Eagles job after the tournament, which could leave space for Utaka to come in with his wealth of experience and learning from his UEFA training.
It remains to be seen what the NFF thinks of bringing a former Super Eagles player on board as a manager of any of the national teams following the failures of the last few ex-Super Eagles turned managers.
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 weeks ago