THE SUPPER EAGLES, Nigeria’s men national football team, under the present manager, Gernot Rohr, almost becoming rudderless team. August 2016, Rohr was named manager of the team. First, for a term of four years. Amaju Pinnick, President, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, presided over Rohr’s appointment. Given what was seen in Rohr as a coach with enviable pedigree. And said to have been tested in managing national teams in Africa. His appointment was applauded.
NFF and Nigerians were optimistic that the appointment of Rohr would lead to building a formidable and enviable Super Eagles for the nation. Indigenous coaches, overtime, were unable to realize this national aspiration and objective of the national team. Amaju Pinnick, had rooted passionately, for the appointment of foreign manager for the national team, against indigenous managers.
Gernot Rohr, joined the team when the fortunes and future of the Super Eagles were receding and uncertain. Nigeria had for two consecutive times, failed to qualify for African Cup of Nations; and at a time when an indigenous Nigerian appointed Chief Coach for the Super Eagles, Sunday Olise, absconded and abandoned the team, ahead of Super Eagles qualification matches for Russia 2018 World Cup.
Rohr’s first four years contract ended early in 2020. Most of his performances in his first tenure were quite remarkable. Super Eagles qualification matches for Russia 2018 world cup, for instance, were perceived as dazzling. Rohr qualified the Super Eagles for the World Cup, after playing five qualifying matches. Nigeria won four and drew one, towards qualification. For some years before his appointment, it was never smooth sailing into a world cup final for Nigeria.
Analysts, however, observed that Rohr used his first tenure, largely, for what he often described, as testing and trials of new players, as well as, building and rebuilding the national team. Analysts, then, said it was permissible for a new manager to explore players of different qualities, to enable him discover the fittest and best professional players to build a formidable national team.
Rohr’s major achievements, in his first contract were, first, Nigeria’s qualification for Russia 2018 World. Nigeria crashed out of the tournament at the group stage. Rohr also took Nigeria to the third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Ironically, Rohr, in four years, had no first-eleven starting line up in the Super Eagle. He experimented with players within the period. And the Supper Eagles weathered the storm in most of the qualification tournaments.
May 2020, Amaju Pinnick, President, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, announced the extension of Rohr’s contract. In the renewed contract, he was given a target to lead the Super Eagles to win the 2021 Africa Nations Cup, to be hosted by Cameroon. Rohr was also to qualify the Super Eagles for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
AHEAD OF THE SUPER EAGLES qualification matches, for 2021 African Nations Cup in Cameroon, and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the team’s form seems suspect. The Supper Eagles, still looks seriously deficient and falters. The team seems not to command the depth of technical know-how and quality expected of professional studded national team. Yet, Rohr continued to excuse, perhaps, what is seen as his deficiencies, with explanations that the Super Eagles are still work in progress.
Rohr’s regular invitation of Super Eagles players for friendly or international engagements, sees him experimenting with players. The Super Eagles, still has no first-eleven starting line up. There are, already, fears that the Super Eagles may take a back stage, if pragmatic steps are not taken to arrest the situation. These fears may not be unfounded.
Friday, November 13, 2020, the Super Eagles, hosted Sierra Leone Stars, first leg, of 2021 African Cup of Nations in Cameroon, at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City. The Super Eagles led Sierra Leone Stars 4—1 during the first-half of the match. At full time, the Eagles surrendered the comfortable lead to the visitors. The abysmal performance of the Super Eagles in the second half, ended the game 4-4 draw.
Ahead of the match, Gernot Rohr said the Super Eagles would not underestimate Sierra Leone Stars. He hoped for a good game from his team with early goals, and urged the Super Eagles to go all out for victory. Rohr said: “We are expecting a tough match because our opponent, Sierra Leone, have quality players too. It will not be an easy game because they have professional players.
“My work is to first explain to the players that this will not be an easy game. We cannot underrate this Sierra Leone team. I see that it’s a new stadium but the most important for the players is to have good grass and then to see a good football game. We want to give joy to Nigerians in this very special period and we want to be happy with a good win”, Rohr stated.
Reactions to Super Eagles miserable performance against Sierra Leone Stars have varied. Kashimawo Laloko, former Technical Director, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, sees the Eagles awful performance as confirmation that the Super Eagles does not have a coach. Rohr, to him, cannot take the Super Eagles anywhere. Laloko said nobody was ready to listen to him on the errors in selection and placement of players, which has exposed, what he described as Rohr’s “ineptitude”.
Kashimawo was quoted as saying: “For me, I have always seen Rohr as a failure no matter what. The numbers of players he assembles during our matches is uncalled for. Why do we keep inviting so many players from abroad? That is also part of the problem because Rohr is not sure of whom he wants to use and this is because the NFF has no policy on how to develop our football. They are not just ready to do anything in that regards”.
SOME ANALYSTS, said the way forward, to have an enviable Super Eagles, and move the team to a first-class national team, was to relief Gernot Rohr of his appointment as the national team manager. They argue, that a first division team in Nigeria’s national league, would have, comfortably, beaten Sierra Leone Stars. That the Super Eagle, still, does not have the first-eleven starting line, in Gernot Rohr’s second tenure as manager, marks him as an “incompetent” manager for the team. Other opinions, however, insisted that Rohr should be allowed to continue with his job and finish what he has started.
Both teams, the Super Eagles and Sierra Leone Stars are scheduled to meet for the second-leg at Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown, Tuesday, November 17. Ahmed Musa, Super Eagles captain, has apologised to Nigerians for the poor performance, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, on November 13, and promised a better outing in the return fixture.