December 17, 2021

Rohr’s sack and Nigeria’s 2022 AFCON prospects

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SUNDAY, December 12, 2021 marked Gernot Rohr’s final day as coach of Nigeria’s senior male national football team, the Super Eagles, after five years on the saddle.

Rohr’s sack was announced by the General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, after a virtual meeting of the Executive Committee. “The relationship between the Nigeria Football Federation and Mr. Rohr has come to an end. We thank him for his services to the Super Eagles and Nigeria,” the NFF scribe’s statement read in part.

During his time with Nigeria, the Franco-German gaffer led the team to 64 matches, won 35, drew six and lost 13, earning 54.69 per cent on his scorecard. The coach was credited with stabilising a floundering team which he inherited and rekindled sagging hopes of many Nigerian football fans in their team. Gernot Rohr led the Eagles to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

In the African qualifiers, the Super Eagles earned their ticket with a match to spare, despite the presence of Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia in the same group. A year later, the former Gabon and Burkina Faso coach led Nigeria to a third-place finish at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.

Mixed reactions have trailed the sacking of Rohr. Majority welcomed the development as long overdue and a good riddance to bad rubbish. They wanted his sack soon after the very embarrassing loss to the Central African Republic in Lagos and the home draw against Cape Verde in the recently concluded first phase of Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers. CAR, regarded as minnows in African football, had not won a match since 2019. It was the lowest moment of Rohr’s reign as Nigeria’s coach.

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Despite their qualification for the World Cup play-off, the Super Eagles under Rohr had become indifferent and without style or guile. Many believed, Nigerians deserved a better national team given the abundance of talents at the coach’s disposal.

However, a few feel the timing of Rohr’s sacking was wrong. They argue that with Super Eagles preparing for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations billed to hold in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, NFF’s decision on Rohr was an open route to failure.

The Executive Committee of the NFF has since announced former Nigeria international and two-time handler of the team, Austin Eguavoen as Rohr’s replacement, but on an interim basis.

Under the present circumstances, Eguavoen, who, until his new appointment, was the technical director of the NFF is, perhaps, the perfect fit for the job. As head of the technical department, he must have worked closely with the former coach, particularly, on technical matters.

It can, therefore, be assumed that he will not be a stranger to the players. Eguavoen was also head coach of the Super Eagles when they won a bronze medal in 2006 AFCON in Egypt.

It is our wish that the Nigeria Football Federation must do everything possible to ensure the interim coach and his crew get all the support they need so that the Super Eagles can emerge tops at the 2022 AFCON in Cameroon.

Vanguard News Nigeria