They should sack Rorh; what are they waiting for?
They should sack Rorh; what are they waiting for?
By Steve Alabi
Gernot Rohr is wrong on almost all fronts. His preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt was fraught with avoidable lapses. His choice of players was not faultless. His choice of goalkeepers was incredibly bad. His tactics were frustrating. His analysis of his own team was poor. His postmortem of the performance of the Super Eagles was wrong. Overall, his Egyptian adventure was a disaster.
Lest you think this is ranting of a frustrated soul, I state emphatically that I do not subscribe to the idea that the Eagles should win or are capable of winning every match. But I demand that the team fight in every game with every fibre of its being. If it loses, it must be to an overtly superior opposition. To exit a competition in poor manners as the Eagles have done twice under Gernot Rohr is unacceptable.
It first happened in Russia. Rohr’s troops could not go beyond the first round of the 2018 World Cup. They lost their opening game 2-0 miserably to Croatia in a better forgotten shambolic outing. They huffed and puffed against lowly debutants, Iceland in their next match only to be saved 2-0 by two flashes of brilliance from Ahmed Musa. Against Argentina in the final group match, Rorh’s tactics failed woefully as the Eagles could not hold on to a 1-1 draw that could have ensured qualification to the second round. With just four minutes to the final whistle, the Eagles succumbed to an Argentine heartbreaking winning goal.
If I had my way, Rorh would have been sent packing after the Russian misadventure. He was not engaged to exit the World Cup in the first round. He was engaged to take the Super Eagles to the next level. Nigeria had gone beyond the stage of merely making up the numbers in the global championship a long time ago. Our last outing prior to Russia 2018 had been a second round exit under the direction of the great Stephen Keshi. Interestingly, that enviable performance was pilloried by the current occupants of the Glass House when they manoeuvred themselves into position. Their first action was to separate the high performing Keshi from the national standard. Now, Nigeria is paying dearly for that irrational action.
It is not enough to qualify for tournaments. A team worth its salt should give a good account of itself. In Egypt, Rorh’s troops floundered like sheep without a shepherd. The team needed a guiding light to direct its youthfulness, energy and skills but it found none. Instead of technical acumen driving performance, we again resorted to dangling wads of dollars in the faces of our players to induce greater delivery. That was after an avoidable impasse over allowances that warranted a presidential sniffing.
The Eagles flattered to deceive in their first two games in Egypt only for them to be exposed as what Rorh and his minders have turned them to be: a hollow contraption incapable of flight above the sea level. As it happened in Russia, the Eagles had the good fortune of being paired with a debuting team but unlike in Russia, the debutants did not wait to be taken. Instead, they took the game to the Eagles, ran them ragged and took their honours with two brilliant goals.
It was a wakeup call that helped to revive a dying fighting spirit momentarily in the next match against the defending champions, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. The Eagles prevailed despite a largely incoherent delivery. The victory over South Africa in the quarter finals was made in the past; history has contrived to make the Bafana Bafana easy meat for every generation of the Eagles since October 10, 1992 when Keshi led Nigeria to an overwhelming 4-0 baptism of fire of the Zulu band after their reintroduction to international football. It would have been an unforgivable disaster of colossal dimension if Rorh’s troops had fallen a second time to the South Africans after earning the opprobrium of being the first set of Eagles to lose to the Bafana Bafana in a competitive game in that calamitous 0-2 spanking in Uyo on June 10, 2017.
Rorh’s tactics against Algeria in the semi finals were predictably poor: run out the same team that won in the quarters and pronto, victory is delivered! He did not learn from Stuart Baxter, the South African gaffer who did the same against Nigeria and not only lost the unpredictability of fresh legs but also the game. How Rorh forgot that Samuel Chukwueze’s introduction unsettled the Bafana Bafana I cannot fathom. Against Algeria, he was now known, and quite predictably, the Algerians kept him quiet.
One last kick of the ball was what it took the Algerians to shoot down the Eagles. The space in the Nigerian defensive wall that Riyahd Mahrez found to slam in the ball was visible to the blind but not to Rorh. The space was virtually a gift. All Mahrez needed to do was just to kick the ball through it. It was not genius on the part of Mahrez, rather, it was scandalous defending from Rorh’s troops, particularly his first choice goalkeeper, the inconsolably lethargic Daniel Akpeyi. Like against South Africa, Rorh’s troops have, by this loss, become the first set of Eagles to lose to Algeria since March 1990. In nine games since that 1-0 loss in the final of Algeria ’90, the Eagles had triumphed seven out of nine games they’d played against the Algerians and drawn the remaining two.
It is a fact that Nigeria has failed to win the African title on offer in Egypt. It is a fact that Nigeria failed to go beyond the first round of the Russian World Cup. It is obvious that we can no longer entrust our football fortunes in the hands of a man who has not achieved what Keshi gave us. Gernot Rohr now holds the dubious honour of losing to two teams that had not beaten Nigeria since the nineties. There is no excuse for the current occupants of the Glass House. If they were not satisfied with Keshi, how can they justify Rorh? Keshi took Nigeria back to the African finals after an absence and won the continental title. Keshi qualified Nigeria for the Brazilian World Cup ahead of every other African team and reached the second round where his team went out fighting. Like Keshi, Rorh took Nigeria back to the African finals but unlike Keshi, he has failed to win the continental title. Like Keshi, Rorh qualified Nigeria for the Russian World Cup ahead of every other African team but unlike Keshi, he failed to scale the first round.
The NFF eggheads should sack Rorh like they sacked Keshi. What are they waiting for? Res ipsa loquitur, the facts speak for themselves. Do they have the guts? I doubt it. Instead, they will celebrate bronze as golden if the Eagles win tonight. Such a funny bunch!