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Eagles, Rohr and the AFCON 2022 ticket

In the recent FIFA window, Nigeria played a back-toback game with Sierra Leone but surprisingly, the Super Eagles picked just two of the six points at stake, same as the Leone Stars. And so the six points recorded in two opening games last year in the African Nations Cup qualifiers have been bungled.

We recall that expectations were high about the country’s qualification during the recent FIFA window but rather, the Eagles are now in a tight situation and so while Senegal, Tunisia and other countries are sure of their tickets to the next AFCON, Nigeria will have to wait till March 2021 to further push for the ticket to Cameroon 2022 AFCON.

In the match played at the Ogbe Stadium in Benin, Eagles were four goals up and they surrendered the lead to finish 4-4. This is like a defeat because the lesser team came back to level on Nigerian soil.

The players failed to perform up to expectations, but manager Gernot Rohr deserves more of the blame. It was believed that Eagles have the power to right the wrongs in Freetown, but they failed to do so as they only managed a goalless draw.

We are aware that many issues are affecting the Eagles at the moment. The team lacks leadership on the pitch. We advise that the team has one leader in the defence, one in the middle and one upfront but there seems to be none after the exit of Mikel Obi.

It was so in the past with Taribo West, Austin Okocha and Daniel Amokachi as leaders of their various departments on the pitch. Later it was Joseph Yobo and Mikel Obi as leaders on the pitch.

However, we make bold to say the current skipper Ahmed Musa lacks leadership qualities and he has no business in the team at the moment. He is there on sentiments and Rohr ‘blindly’ included him in the starting lineup for the two ill-fated games. Over time, his tactics were always suspect and his substitutions, awful.

The current bunch of players in the squad can do better with a very sound coach, not Rohr. He has flooded the team with players with Nigerian origin who are not psychically and mentally good enough to compete with strong African teams.

Last week, Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, wrote on his Twitter handle that: “The performance of the Super Eagles from their last two matches calls to question the suitability and competences of Technical Adviser, Rohr. Nigerian football deserves better.

The needful will be done.” A former international, Segun Odegbami, also wrote that the best decision for now is to get a new handler just as NFF boss, Amaju Pinnick, came all out to defend the German and enumerated various reasons why it was difficult to fire the manager. We agree totally with the minister and Odegbami, Nigerian football deserves better. We expect that the domestic league players will be part of the national team when situation becomes normal.

We call on the NFF to insist on a quota for domestic league players to boost the NPFL as this will also be a financial relieve to the federation. Eagles need another manager who will take domestic league seriously and pick players without sentiments. The country cannot continue to be at the mercy of Rohr. Between now and end of the year, NFF should act fast since the next round of matches are slated for March next year.

This is because the senior national football team is the biggest brand in the country’s sport and anything about the team is a big deal. The U-17 team have won World Cup five times to make Nigeria the best in this cadre of world football and the Super Falcons are also the best in Africa winning nine of the 11 African Women Nations Cup titles. However, with just three African Nations Cup titles, the Eagles remain the pride of the nation. Clearly, Eagles have not performed up to expectations with five World Cup appearances in which they are yet to go beyond the second round stage. Current Eagles Manager, Rohr, has been under fire in the past few months for various reasons.

The coach, after 43 games with the Eagles recorded 21 wins, 11 draws and 11 defeats across all competitions. However, with the average record over five years, this has not translated into developments and major landmark wins in major competitions. The national team so far has no pattern as Rohr continues to make wholesale changes in the team that lacks leadership, cohesion and pattern.

At the Russia 2018 World Cup, the deficiencies of the German coach were evident but surprisingly, the NFF went ahead to renew his contract with a monthly salary in the region of $50,000. He took the job with $45,000, it was increased to $55,000 and later reduced but the federation did not make his current pay public. Let us stress that Nigerians love football passionately, but many fans of the game take solace in European clubs and national team football at the detriment of the domestic league.

In the past, top teams make the domestic football thick, but the fun is now abroad for many fans, however, national team football still bonds everyone together. We charge the NFF to take the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers seriously rather than pamper a foreign coach at the detriment of national interest.

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