Nigeria: Is Gernot Rohr Still the Right Man for Eagles?

Super Eagles begin training in Asaba ahead of Seychelles, Egypt ties.

As the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is set to be hosted by Cameroon, and qualifying round of matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar gradually draws near, opinions have been divided over the technical capabilities of Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr.

This is however not surprising, if judging him based on his previous record as Coach of the republic of Niger, same cannot be said of his achievements as the Super Eagles gaffer.

Although some lovers of the round leather game in the country are quick to point out that qualifying for the world cup and getting knocked out in the preliminary round should not be termed as 'success'.

Notwithstanding Nigeria's 3rd place finish at the last African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt, pundits have argued that Rohr may not be one of the best in the business, but his tenure as Super Eagles Coach has seen an improvement in the FIFA World ranking.

Some have also noted that under his reign, Nigeria have qualified for three major tournaments with games to spare and also earned the qualification from the most difficult groups in the qualifying stages of the competition.

While the other side of the divide acknowledges these facts, the argument they put up is in the playing style of the team and the Coach's penchant for inviting players who are not regular starters or bench warmers at their clubs in Europe or elsewhere.

Some football fans and pundits have also questioned his technical inputs during matches, the kind and type of substitutions he makes and his overall tactical ability.

In the recent double-header friendly match against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, the Super Eagles were beaten 1-0 in the first leg and held goalless draw in the second leg, with Rohr's team looking off the pace in both games.

Questions have been asked of those calling the shots in the Super Eagles squad and important decisions made on and off the field.

Former Super Eagles striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni, who is Nigeria's third highest scoring player of all time believes the German tactician must take the brunt of the blame for the form of the Team.

"The coach is not good enough, let him go," the former Maccabi Haifa, Everton and Portsmouth striker said while speaking as a guest on a Lagos based radio station, "Lagos Talks".

"Some of the boys are not good enough, I don't know where they are bringing them from. Who is inviting these players?

"Our football is getting worse every day. When I was there, people criticise us, but we're way better than these ones.

"The coach is not good enough, no clue. Gernot Rohr is one of the worst coaches in our history. He is not good enough." Aiyegbeni fumed.

Rohr replaced Sunday Oliseh as the country's Chief Coach in 2016. He led the Super Eagles to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, where they crashed out of a group that had Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

He was also in charge when Nigeria placed third at the Egypt 2019 AFCON - where they pipped Tunisia 1-0 for the bronze medal.

The fact that Nigeria is yet to win a trophy under his watch remains a source of concern to many. It is also worthy to note that the German born tactician is yet to lift silverware in the course of his coaching career.

In 1996, he led Girondins de Bordeaux to the UEFA Cup final, where they lost to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich over two legs, 0-2 away and 1-3 at home.

Rohr was fired by Étoile Sportive du Sahel following a third-place finish in the league, outside of the 2010 CAF Champions League places, in May 2009. In June 2009, he was named as the new head coach of FC Nantes, and subsequently sacked in December 2009. In February 2010, Rohr replaced French coach Alain Giresse at the helm of the Gabon national football team.

He became manager of Niger national football team in September 2012, until he resigned in October 2014. He was shortlisted for the Guinea national team job in July 2016 but was not given the job. In August 2016, he was named Head Coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, and won his first game in charge by defeating Tanzania by a lone goal in Uyo.

On 7 October 2017, Nigeria became the first African side to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a 1-0 win against Zambia. On 17 July 2019, Rohr led Nigeria to a third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. His contract was extended by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) on 27 May 2020, with a target of guiding the team to win the 2021 Africa Nations Cup to be hosted by Cameroon. The new contract also includes qualifying the Super Eagles to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

It is left to be seen if Rohr will warm his way into the hearts of many Nigerians, with a 4th AFCON title for the country,and qualification for the 1st world cup to be hosted in the middle-east in 2022.

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