Super Eagles dilemma and way forward

By Babatunde Ayedoju


The performance of super eagles under Coach Gernot Rohr has not been impressive and there are speculations in some quarters that he may lose his job soon.
The call for Rohr’s sack intensified after the team struggled to earn a draw against Cape Verde in their last group game of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Although they qualified for the play-offs, most Nigerian football lovers are concerned that the Super Eagles may not make it out of the play-offs where they will meet teams that are more composed and are more dangerous.
Before Rohr became Super Eagles manager, the team failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. The Franco-German however qualified for the 2019 AFCON in Egypt with a game to spare after playing a 1-1 draw against South Africa.
The Eagles also qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia even though they could not go beyond the first round, having lost 2-1 to Argentina in a match which many fans believed Nigeria could have won.
Rohr led the Eagles to win the bronze medal at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt after earlier losing the semi-final 1-0 against Algeria. Earlier in the first round, they had lost 2-0 to Madagascar, a team that had a record of never scoring any goal against Super Eagles before that encounter. The AFCON 2019 Bronze medal convinced the Nigeria Football Federation to renew Gernot Rohr’s contract with the Eagles.
Some other notable matches in which the German tactician has tutored the Super Eagles include the AFCON 2019 qualifiers match in which the Eagles lost 2-0 to South Africa in Uyo and the recent 1-1 draw with Central African Republic in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos in October.
At the moment, the following questions are begging for answers: what is the level of competence of Gernot Rohr? Should Nigeria continue to hire foreign coaches for Super Eagles? Do we have indigenous coaches who will be able to do better than these foreign coaches? What other solution can be proffered for the poor outings of Super Eagles in recent times?
To find answers to these questions, the Hope spoke with some football enthusiasts. According to Joshua Amupitan, “Gernot Rohr is not incompetent but he may have lost the motivation to give his best. I learnt one time that he was being owed many months salaries. If an agreement was signed, then it should be followed to the letter.
“Let’s trace the beginning of his tenure as Nigerian coach. He started well and many Nigerians were proud of him. Along the line results started changing. One thing I believe is that everyone under the best conditions can produce something great except for some few persons. It’s not only the Coach and his staff that are worthy of motivations. The players also need it.
Ronald Izuchukwu said, “I will say Gernot Rohr is not competent enough to manage the Super Eagles players at his disposal. The players struggle so much and some are played out of position, while some are not meant to be playing anymore. Why will he be calling up those who are underperforming at their various club levels? A coach should call up players who are playing at their maximum strengths.
Similarly, Rotimi Orogbemi opined, “The team doesn’t have a clear play pattern, despite how long Rohr has been on the job. The team is neither entertaining nor efficient. Rohr is simply incompetent.”
On whether Nigeria should continue to hire foreign coaches or make do with local ones, Mr Amupitan said, “I’m a supporter of foreign coaches and this is my reason: We get too familiar with our indigenous coaches, no matter how brilliant and great they are. By implication, we treat our indigenous coaches with disrespect and dishonour. Look at Stephen Keshi for instance; Shuaibu Amodu and even Sunday Oliseh. Similarly, foreign coaches take coaching as a profession and they go to coaching schools, while Nigerian coaches do almost nothing to grow their careers.
Mr Izuchukwu said, “I will suggest we continue to hire foreign coaches, because our indigenous coaches are not making progress. I will commend someone like Sunday Oliseh because he is pushing up what he is doing. Same with Daniel Amokachi. But the level of our indigenous coaches is below standard. I still suggest we hire a foreign coach for the team.
“Our retired players should pick up coaching courses. Watch the likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Xavi Hernandez. After their playing days, they have joined the coaching crew. To manage their various countries and clubs in future will not be an issue.”
Mr Orogbemi also stated “There’s too much going on politically as regards Nigerian football and sports generally. Of course, we have indigenous coaches who are very experienced and exposed. But how much is the federation willing to pay them? Would the federation give them the same freehand Rohr was given without interference on the players to be featured?
What is the way out? In the words of Joshua Amupitan, “The first thing is to go back to the drawing board and sincerely ask noteworthy questions that would lead us to the problem. Once the problem is noted, the next is the willpower to solve it. Let me go further to say that the NFF should find a way of training coaches. Just like they give study scholarship, they can do the same with the locals and those who have been trained should return to train others.
Ronald Izuchukwu suggested that, “They should pick players based on merit and not bias. Someone like Taiwo Awoniyi should be among the players called up for the last match, but what the coach did was to call Odion Ighalo.
According to Rotimi Orogbemi, “I am proposing a quota system of 80:20 foreign: home-based players invited. It is a chain of solutions. NFF should Invest in grassroots football. That way our leagues will feature richer talents and grow. From there we can have good quality home-based invitee to the Super Eagles team.
We can always have some sort of camping for our best home-based players every quarter. The most needed among them will be handpicked to join the foreign players whenever we have a match.”

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