Since coming on board on 9th August 2016, Nigeria’s national team coach, Gernot Rohr, has never left anyone in doubt as to his incompetence and lack of confidence in the Super Eagles players.
Paid $49, 000 monthly (the equivalent of N25 million at the current exchange rate), not a few Nigerian expected a stellar performance from the Franco-German tactician. The best he’s achieved is a third-place finish in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) held in Egypt in 2019. And he was beside himself with joy with the “feat”.
However, his protagonists are apt to point to the qualification of the Super Eagles for most (if not all) competitions with a match or two to spare. A clear departure, they contend, from the past where Nigerians resort to the use of calculators to calculate the chances of the team to qualify for competitions. However, when the issue dove-tailed into actual performance at such competitions, he’s found wanting. His knowledge of the technicalities of the game is suspect while his managerial ability is warped.
To further demonstrate his lack of confidence in his team, the coach was quoted to have said that that he is not convinced of his players’ abilities to reach the semi-finals of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. (Who does that!)
According to Rohr, most of his squad members do not play for top clubs in Europe, like their African counterparts.
“They (other African countries) have players playing in the best teams in Europe, we don’t. Our players are playing in lower clubs. We don’t have these players like Egypt, like Senegal, like Ivory Coast who are playing in the biggest clubs. Our players are playing in clubs that are not the best ones.
“Only Samuel Chukwueze won the Europa League with Villarreal. All others are fighting to stay in the league or are fighting to be starting players. When you see the world champions, France, the players are playing for Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, PSG and Manchester United.
“When we have players in the biggest teams, then we can say we have a chance to get to the semi-final of the World Cup,” Rohr reportedly told ESPN.
It wasn’t the first time Mr.. Rohr was demarketing his players and the country’s football industry. He was recently quoted as saying: “I can tell you that it’s not easy for the local players (to make it to the Super Eagles) when you see the conditions.
“They have to play in old turf, in a championship which is playing for six or seven months. How do you want them to be fit and be able to compete with players in Europe who have the best conditions for training, for playing, organisation and for health?
“So it is not easy for the local players.”
Perhaps, unbeknown to Mr Rohr, these statements are not only admittance of incompetence on his part but also capable of dampening the morale of the players. Two successful coaches that have handled the national team, Clemens Westerhof and Stephen Okechukwu Keshi (of blessed memory) exposed quite a number of players to foreign clubs via participation in matches involving the national team. Indeed, both coaches won AFCON for the country in 1994 and 2013, respectively with a large dosage of local players.
Apart from having not won any trophy for the country five years after taken charge, one cannot readily point to any significant impact he has made on the team. The Super Eagles now play without a clear pattern, the wings (which has been our traditional style of play) have disappeared. All Rohr is known for is invite any foreign-based player with the slightest link to the country, regardless of the league, club, or division such player plays for.
If the coach of a team believes his team cannot do well in a competition that is about a year away, then why bother participating in the competition? With Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) officials’ insistence on retaining Rohr, It only lends credence to insinuations that there are more the public has not been told about the contract it signed with the coach.