The downward trend of Nigerian football has been a major factor in the evaluation of sports in the country in the past few months. It is easy to look at the results in sports and so in all cases every event is important because the outcome could be a setback that could affect the entire industry. Nigeria’s domestic football league has been under fire because the country has failed to be at the top in the continental cup competitions while the league itself is not being administered the way it was expected to conform with the other leagues abroad, especially England which we were told the Nigeria Professional Football League is modelled after.
Nigeria will play Mexico this weekend in the United States of America in an international friendly encounter in which the NPFL players will represent the country against the A team of the Mexican side. The disposition of Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr, about this encounter has been a big issue in the past few days and it is funny that the Nigeria Football Federation did not react to any of the comments made by the national team handler. Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, during the week came up strong to kick against the lackadaisical attitude of Rohr and his negative disposition to the domestic league players.
During his visit to the camp of the team in Abuja, the minister was angry that Rohr who should be preparing the team travelled ahead and left the team for the NFF’ s Technical Director Austin Eguavoen. Dare said: “We cannot have the technical coach who will discriminate amongst our players, they are football players, they have talent, you can’t discriminate, his attitude towards home based players is unacceptable, it’s negative to our football development in this country. “I call on the NFF to call him to order, to hold him by the content of his contract, but beyond that, he needs to shut up, and do the work he was hired to do, he talks too much.
I am an advocate of the home-based talents, because I have seen so many of them play, we have the talents here. Few months ago, after the game in Benin, I had a meeting with the NFF in my office and part of the things we discussed was the need for the technical adviser to pay attention to our local league, the Premier League especially, to identify our stars, and blend them into Super Eagles level.”
Ordinarily, the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF should have been the body putting heat on Rohr but now it is the sports minister who has to intervene to also assert authority on behalf of the President, Muhammadu Buhari. On many occasions, Rohr displays a carefree attitude on developmental issues about the country’s football and NFF as the employers, turn deaf ears to the misdemeanors of the coach. Now that the riot act is coming from the minister, it is expected that the NFF will take a second look at the overall operations of Rohr about his role as the technical head of the Super Eagles.
At 68, Rohr is battling with his old age as the Eagles handler because modern trend is to have young coaches at the helm of affairs of national teams and also clubs to achieve success. It is sad that the NFF, even as the employers of Rohr, cannot talk to the coach on the template expected for the national team. It is indeed strange that Rohr is like a ‘supremo’ that is untouchable. He came up with list of invited players without any input in terms of checks from the technical arm of the NFF. Rohr is not a Nigerian and he is perhaps not bothered about the future of football in the country.
There should be a developmental template and a pattern in the Eagles. The way things are, Rohr sets up the team to get results in each of the games to keep his job but there is need for much more. There is no pattern in the past six years and the coach has been unable to give Nigerians a solid team.
He keeps rebuilding with every FIFA window and till date no one is certain about the first 11 of the team. Eagles need consistency and cohesion which can only be guaranteed if Rohr has his best 11 or best 18 players. The domestic league players cannot be ruled out of the process; there should be a deliberate effort to expose them and make the best in the NPFL flourish in the Super Eagles.