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When listening pays

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By Patrick Omorodion

In the Book of Proverbs, chapter 12  and verse 15, we are told that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Nigeria vs Iceland

Again the same Proverbs, chapter 15 and verse 20, says “listen to advise and accept instructions, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

No  matter how grounded one is in any endeavour of life, if you don’t take advice from another source and think you know it all and do things only your own way, you may end up being a failure or a fool like the Bible tells  us.

When Pharaoh of Egypt had lost all ideas about governance and things were going awry for him, he had a dream but did not understand the meaning and so sought an interpretation. One freed prisoner who was with Joseph in detention told him about the Israelite and he did not put pride forward and invited Joseph. That was the magic for the turn around of  Egypt  as Joseph gave him a useful advice that made Egypt save for the raining day.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles were floundering under the tutelage of one we were told was like the famous Pep Guardiola or even better. But when Sunday Oliseh was replaced by another coach who says he is both German and French, Gernot Rohr, the Eagles picked up and for the first time in a World Cup qualification, picked a ticket without the usual permutation associated with it in the past. In fact Nigeria became the first African side to qualify with a game to spare.

I think from here, the praises showered on Coach Rohr must have gotten into his head, especially after his boys came back from two goals to whip Argentina 4-2  in a friendly preparatory to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

With a few weeks to the World Cup, Rohr was still searching for his ‘real’ team  when other countries had known which players were going to represent them, but were only waiting to name them by or before the FIFA deadline to do so.

He tried different tactics, playing most of the players out of the traditional roles they were known for in their various clubs. The  result was that the team started recording embarrassing defeats with the World Cup drawing near.

Apart from the 1-0 victory over Poland, they recorded defeats against the Czech Republic and England and played a draw against Congo Democratic Republic in Port Harcourt.

The expectation Nigerians had about the team’s performance at the World Cup following their near flawless qualification began to drop with  murmurs and annoyance so much so that some even predicted that they were going to lose all their three group matches and return home with disgrace.

That was the thinking of most fans. However, some key stakeholders thought differently and believed there was a way out. And they began to voice their opinion on what the coach must do to salvage the team’s pride. They believed that despite the not  very good selection the coach made, he could still  make hay with the players he had if he changes his tactics and plays the players in their right positions.

One medium though which most of them aired their opinion and advice was the trail – blazing Sports Radio in the land, Brila FM 88.9.

The list is endless. From the great one dubbed The Mathematical, Chief  Segun Odegbami to Julius Aghahowa, Etim Esin, Monday Odiaka, Nwankwo Kanu, Ifeanyi Udeze and the CEO of the outfit, Dr Larry Izamoje, the opinion was the same. Even Manchester United Coach, Jose Mourinho added his voice by saying that Rohr should not play as Number 10.

Others like Samson Siasia and Austin Okocha who are analysts on SuperSport were equally worried and put in words on what should be done or else the Eagles would crash. Despite their worries and advice, Dr Izamoje said the only way the advice from the array of stakeholders  mentioned and others who spoke at different fora could make sense was if the coach will have a listening ear and make the desired changes advocated.

The heat got to Rohr after the players complained. He had no choice  but to hold several meetings with them and  other officials, as was later disclosed by former Super Eagles goalkeeper.

Idah Peterside on a Channels television programme.

On the eve of the Iceland match, Peterside revealed that Rohr would make about three or four changes from the team that lost to Croatia but kept the expected line-up to his chest. He was so optimistic that he predicted a 3-0 or 3-1 victory for the Eagles.

After the victory which sent Nigerians into wild celebrations and believing now that the Super Eagles will overcome Argentina to berth into the round of 16, Dr Izamoje was again to  thank Rohr for having a listening ear. If Rohr believed that he alone knows it all and refused to listen to the plethora  of advice given him, maybe today, Nigeria would have noticed  the quietness of a graveyard as everyone would still have been sulking by now.

All the government officials who are falling over each other now to identify with the Super Eagles’ victory which came because Rohr has a listening ear should stop to ponder whether they are listening to Nigerians who cry daily about their misrule.

Maybe if they too listen to advice and do what the people want, Nigeria would be  the better for it. Is not said  that the voice of the people is the voice of God?

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