The memorable tenure of Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr seems to have suddenly gone sour in the mouths of many Nigerians, who are calling for his sack, following the national team’s bronze-winning efforts at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON in Egypt. The anger in those who want him sacked was reinforced after watching the agonising manner the Super Eagles struggled to win the AFCON bronze medal.
Not many Nigerians believe Rohr still has anything new, off his sleeves. His style has remained static, no dynamism, no flexibility. The Super Eagles were overran 0-2 by a team of rookies, Madagascar who used Nigeria to create AFCON history. After the Madagascar match, former Nigeria international and, now a prolific football writer and commentator, Chief Segun Odegbami declared, “if I were in charge of Nigeria football, I would have sacked Rohr immediately.” The humiliation did not end there as Madagascar won the group which had the Super Eagles too.
Former technical director of the Nigeria Football Association, veteran coach Kashimawo Laloko is evidently angry at Rohr’s performance at the AFCON. He rather praised the players for what Nigeria achieved at the Africa Cup of Nations and questioned Rohr’s technical ability. Laloko concluded that Rohr lacked tactical acumen.
‘’The boys have tried their best but they have a coach that does not understand football. I cannot imagine a coach who knows his worth doesn’t know how to organize his team, you saw in the last match Chukwueze was removed and Ighalo was no longer playing. It has to do with strategy and Rohr disappointed me personally.
‘I should thank the boys for pushing us to the semifinal, we have been very lucky, the way we went through all the matches.”
Former Nigeria international, Felix Owolabi shares the same sentiments. He is dissatisfied with the performance of the German tactician. Reating to a question posed by sportsvillagesquare.com, he said, “it is so sad that we lost to Algeria in the Semi Finals of the 2019 AFCON. There is no doubts in my observation that the players through their sheer-will and individual brilliance got to the semi-final stage.
“The tactical ineptitude of Gernot Rohr cost us the defeat. Remember we faced a similar scenario against Argentina in the last World Cup and we lost out in the dying minutes. For me the Algerian match has exposed the coach and it has given all of us the best platform to assess the man in totality.
“We lacked team game. There was poor cohesion. The team lacked character. No game plan, no strategy, no organization, no play-maker and no-match-maker.”
The former dashing winger didn’t mince words in condemning Rohr’s lack of organisation as he wrote, “the team didn’t have any football mentality and football discipline at all,” adding, “a good coach is retained when he succeeds when others fail. And same is sacked when he fails.”
Former Nigeria international and one time assistant coach of the Super Eagles, Sylvanus Okpala said although the Super Eagles did not perform too bad, by picking a bronze, “the team could have performed better. They have more quality players than we had in 2013. I expected them present squad to have achieved a bigger things in Egypt.”
Another former Nigeria international, Mutiu Adepoju said the German has done well. “He is the coach that took the team to the semi final of AFCON. Everybody has his opinion. As for me the team did very well and he is the coach.”
Should the Nigeria Football Federation be responsible for the education of Rohr?
I have no comment on that. Refresher courses are meant for young coaches who are still growing on the job. However, nobody is too old for knowledge, I won’t say much on that because it is the NFF that employed him.
But another source who spoke on anonymity questioned why Rohr is deserving of a refresher course.
“Rohr is over 60. What kind of refresher course is he going for? He is European, under a contract. I think the thought of a refresher course should embarrass him. It is an admission by Pinnick that his employee is not up to date. Instead of sacking him, he is protecting the coach with tax payers money.”
He said the technical committee which he is supposed to be a member was non-existent. As it is now, the Technical Committee is not functioning. Since January 2018 we have not met. We did not know anything about the World Cup. Same for the Nations Cup. We did not meet to vet the list, neither have we received post tournament report for the World Cup to deliberate on. The leadership of the NFF is usurping a lot of functions thereby rendering the various committees redundant and ineffective. The technical Committee is dead,” he said.
But his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation are happy with him, if one is to believe the leadership of the football house. Rohr would soon go back to Germany for a refresher course at Bayern Munich. NFF would foot the bill.
The NFF President, Amaju Pinnick said, “Gernot Rohr will not be sacked as Super Eagles coach. He will remain in the job. I have complete confidence in him,” Pinnick revealed.
“Gernot has taken us to the semi-final, the target we set for him.
“There are some people that have been calling on me and the federation to sack Gernot. But I am not going to do that.
“In fact, Gernot is going on a refresher training period with Bayern Munich after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. We have a long-term plan with him.
“He is a good coach and we want him to remain with us. That said, we will work together on what needs to be improved upon.
“We are keeping him because we have a long term plan with him. He is a good coach and we will send him on a refresher course at Bayern Munich.”
This is where the NFF boss goofed. How could he think of sending Rohr, a man who is on contract to a refresher course at the federation’s expense?
Former Chairman of the Nigeria Football Association, Kojo Williams said, “if the President of the NFF said he would be sending his world class coach on a refresher course, then there is a problem. Rohr is supposed to be organising courses for Nigerian coaches. He is supposed to be the one to reshape Nigerian football with his expertise. Pinnick should stop insulting Nigerians with ill-informed suggestions like sending Rohr on refresher course. It’s insulting, it is a big fraud.”
Sylvanus Okpala, a former Nigeria international and former assistant coach of the Super Eagles asked, “Refresher course for Rohr? To go and learn what and from where? Is it to know how to read games, how to substitute a player as game changer? No coaching course would teach one these things. These are things that one imbibes while on the job.
‘All I am saying is that Rohr has tried. You can’t say he is a bad coach..”
Rohr’s record in Nigeria is not a bad one but his penchant for frequent experiments has not afforded him the benefit of having a stable team that can be strong enough for major competitions, like the World Cup or AFCON.
Rohr’s biggest sins include leading Nigeria to her most embarrassing defeat at the 2019 AFCON to Madagascar, non-starters in African football; the loss to Algeria in the semi finals and his resolve to ignore local league players, thereby encouraging the flight of young men wanting to go abroad at all cost, so they too could be invited to the national team.
From a relatively sound football background, Gernot Rohr arrived Africa in 2010 when he was appointed manager of Gabon national team. Between then and now, Rohr has moved to Niger(2012 – ’14), Burkina Faso(2015) and Nigeria since 2016. His achievement in Nigeria include qualifying for and leading the Super Eagles to Russia 2018 World Cup and winning bronze at the 2019 AFCON.