What next for the Super Eagles?

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German coach Gernot Rohr has been under pressure since penultimate Tuesday when the Super Eagles grinded a listless 1-1 draw against visiting Cape Verde to round off their second round Qatar 2022 World Cup elimination series but many are of the opinion that there seems to be more malaise  within the national team  set up than firing  the German, reports TUNDE LIADI. 

Super Eagles success reached its highest point under Dutch coach Clemens Westerhof in 1994 when they won the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Tunisia en route to Nigeria’s maiden appearance at the FIFA World Cup in the USA.

Besides  Jo Bonfrere success  by winning  the Olympic Games gold medal with the  Nigeria’s Under 23 at the  Atlanta 1996 Games as well as  late Stephen Keshi  AFCON title in 2013 in South Africa, it has become  a huge task for others to match up to Westerhof’s standard.

Rohr: What next  for the Super Eagles?

By TUNDE LIADI On Nov 26, 2021

Gernot Rohr

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German coach Gernot Rohr has been under pressure since penultimate Tuesday when the Super Eagles grinded a listless 1-1 draw against visiting Cape Verde to round off their second round Qatar 2022 World Cup elimination series but many are of the opinion that there seems to be more malaise  within the national team  set up than firing  the German, reports TUNDE LIADI. 

Super Eagles success reached its highest point under Dutch coach Clemens Westerhof in 1994 when they won the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Tunisia en route to Nigeria’s maiden appearance at the FIFA World Cup in the USA.

Besides  Jo Bonfrere success  by winning  the Olympic Games gold medal with the  Nigeria’s Under 23 at the  Atlanta 1996 Games as well as  late Stephen Keshi  AFCON title in 2013 in South Africa, it has become  a huge task for others to match up to Westerhof’s standard.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-5089981496810613&output=html&h=430&slotname=9061296982&adk=1179051871&adf=1211063978&pi=t.ma~as.9061296982&w=412&lmt=1637903775&rafmt=11&psa=1&format=412×430&url=https%3A%2F%2Fthenationonlineng.net%2Frohr-what-next-for-the-super-eagles%2F&flash=0&fwr=1&wgl=1&dt=1637904692545&bpp=23&bdt=3782&idt=24&shv=r20211111&mjsv=m202111110101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D7696680f7c62d37a%3AT%3D1634301676%3AS%3DALNI_MZomrzdUGIFYUkW4t2iNb4L50KdCA&prev_fmts=0x0%2C0x0%2C412x343&nras=1&correlator=4971745688907&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=2018727794.1633703917&ga_sid=1637904692&ga_hid=2064361997&ga_fc=1&rplot=4&u_tz=60&u_his=1&u_h=732&u_w=412&u_ah=732&u_aw=412&u_cd=24&dmc=4&adx=0&ady=1321&biw=412&bih=612&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=182982000%2C182982200%2C31063792%2C31060475&oid=2&pvsid=2986625711870313&pem=241&tmod=1582594084&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F&eae=0&fc=1920&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C412%2C0%2C412%2C612%2C412%2C612&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7CeEbr%7C&abl=CS&pfx=0&fu=128&bc=31&ifi=4&uci=a!4&btvi=1&fsb=1&xpc=YXkxzUJuMg&p=https%3A//thenationonlineng.net&dtd=48

It’s a long list  that had Shaibu Amodu, Philippe Troussier, Bora Milutinovic, Thijs Libregts, Adegboye Onigbinde, Christian Chukwu, Austin Eguavoen, Berti Vogts, Lars Lagerbäck, Samson Siasia, and Sunday Oliseh but none  was able to match  the success of the 1990s.

In August 2016, German coach Gernot Rohr replaced Oliseh after both Samson Siasia and Emmanuel Amuneke held forth in interim capacity and the arrival of the former Bayern Munich defender was seen as a breath of fresh air  to the national team set up.

He came in after the Eagles’ failure to qualify for two  successive AFCONs in 2015 and 2017;he  ruthlessly went into action and the Eagles qualified for the 2018 World Cup in an otherwise  seemingly difficult group that had  Algeria, Zambia and Cameroon.

He took over a team that had failed to qualify for back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations and led them to the 2018 World Cup with a game to spare. It  was  even more impressive, considering the Super Eagles beat  all the heavyweights including Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia to pick the qualification ticket.

Although Nigeria got knocked out in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup, Rohr deservedly  kept his job and also led Nigeria to the  2019 AFCON  yet again with a game to spare.

The  Super Eagles finished third at the end of the tournament in Egypt but  many felt that should have been the end of his reign with Nigeria.

While Rohr has done brilliantly by bringing stability to the team, the Super Eagles have regressed under him since the 2019 Nations Cup.

The Super Eagles looked like a lost team under him. The general performance is not exciting to watch, with the team  reportedly lacking an identity.

Many argued that  Super  Eagles’ games are boring to watch and opponents, irrespective of their status, believe they stand a chance against the Super Eagles.

Not only that, Rohr’s player selection and management has also been called into question. He is a coach that hardly gives players a chance to show their quality in the team.

Such decisions and the team’s lack of direction have led to calls for his sack, which is the right call. However, while Rohr deserves to go, sacking him now is not an option.

Incidentally, the  former Burkina Faso manager signed a two-year contract extension in 2020, with some conditions attached to his new deal.

He was given the objective of winning next year’s AFCON and leading the team to the World Cup. Although it is unlikely he achieves the target, he is still on course, which is why he deserves at least a fair chance.

Yet, many Nigerians have called on the President Amaju Pinnick –led NFF  to replace Rohr.

Speaking on the recent lacklustre performances of the Super Eagles in recent times, former Green Eagles player and national team’s assistant coach when the late Stephen Keshi-led Super Eagles won the AFCON in 2013, Sylvanus Okpala said qualifying for the AFCON or the World Cup is nothing new to Nigeria and shouldn’t have been a parameter to gauge the progress of the Super Eagles under Rohr.

“As a nation, we should be aiming at the semi-finals of the World Cup because there are other African countries that have attained that threshold,” said Okpala.

Okpala, faulting Rohr’s inability to incorporate some domestic league players into the senior national team added, “Although having players in big clubs can play a role in the quality of the team ,  it does not guarantee success.

Okpala also cited Senegal’s shocking win over defending champions France and the 2002 World Cup and Nigeria’s brilliant 1994 squad as examples of teams doing well without necessarily having big names in their team.

Similarly, former Nigeria international Felix Owolabi’s reaction was not excited either.

“What do you want me to say?” Owolabi asked rhetorically . “Is the Nigeria Football Federation not seeing what some of us have been talking about Rohr, long before his contract was renewed?

“You can’t talk about Rohr without talking about the NFF.

“In our time, Nigeria had a pattern and our team was very strong. Today, Nigeria cannot score one goal in two matches? What a shame.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports and Youth Development, Senator Obinna Ogba, cautioned sports enthusiasts, who have been calling for the sack of the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, to exercise some patience.

Speaking after defending the 2022 budget of the ministry before the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Ogba said that sacking of a coach is not as easy as they think because ‘he has a contract.’

Senator Ogba continued: “Yes, so many people have called for his sack. It needs to be discussed because there was an agreement with the sports operators in football.

“There is a way you will sack him, and if you don’t pay him a certain amount of money, FIFA could ban Nigeria and when they ban us, you will complain. Why not allow football operators to discuss the issues by finding a way out?” He mused.

Looking to the future, former Super Eagles midfielder, Edema Fuludu offers panache for a new-look and strong Super Eagles: “I am an advocate of a home based coach with structured backroom staff helped by an accountable Technical Department of the NFF.  We need a coach who will be allowed to do his job without the federation imposing so much influence on what must be or not. A coach who will not allow players to be forced on him.

“We must begin to put into use positive scouting mechanisms that allow merit to choose who gets called up.

“Focus must also come to our domestic league because a country’s football prowess is mostly determined by its league. We had a football culture and pattern. There was a Super Eagles of Nigeria. The future is now,” he concluded.

Nigerian league legend, Victor Ezeji said he was joining forces with those calling for the sack of Rohr to ensure that the Super Eagles camp becomes more competitive.

“I agree that Gernot Rohr should be sacked because he has not brought anything new to the national team,” Ezeji explained. “He has made the team to be some players’ birth right.

“There is no competition in the team. Some players believe that when it is time for international games they will be invited so the hunger to fight for a jersey is low.

“Players should be invited based on current form but Rohr has picked his special players making them believe that whatever happens, they will be invited. It was not the situation when we were still playing,” he noted.

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