The Super Eagles manager will lead out his side against the defending champions knowing that a humiliating defeat may signal the end of his time in charge of the Nigerian national team.
Nigeria will, on Saturday, battle it out with the Indomitable Lions for a spot in the quarter-final at the ongoing African Cup of Nations being hosted by Egypt. A balanced, evenly contested match is expected between two sides that have won eight AFCON titles between them.
Cameroon are the slight favourites
The defending champions are unbeaten so far, picking up two draws and a straight forward win over Guinea Bissau. They have not conceded a single goal, boast one of Africa’s finest shot-stoppers at the moment – Andre Onana – and have in their ranks the best player of the last tournament, Bassogog.
The Cameroonians also enjoy facing the Super Eagles at the AFCON. Of the five titles the Lions have won, three of them were acquired by brushing past the Nigerians.
Rohr’s Eagles can compete
Gernot has seen highs and lows since being named as Nigeria’s manager since August 2016. He has seen the team miss out on qualifying for the last African Cup of Nations, Gabon 2017. But he also led the side to become the first African team to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The German-born tactician has lasted this long in the Nigerian hot-seat because he got the football-crazy Nigerian fans on his side.
The 66years-old coach’s first game in charge against Tanzania was won by a single goal. In the three intervening years, his record reads: 21 wins, 8 draws and 10 losses.
Nothing fantastic on the face of those numbers but some of those few victories were notched against the likes of Cameroon (home and away), Egypt, South Africa, and Iceland.
Moreover, all these were achieved while Rohr placed his trust on young, hungry and talented Nigerian footballers who are holding their own in the big European leagues.
Gone are the days of the old guards. Gone are the days when the rumour mills churn out news of players bribing their way into the squad.
That has been satisfying for the fans and has made most of them support the team as they gun for the AFCON title yet again.
Why Rohr Will Be Sacked
If Nigeria lose to Cameroon, it is unlikely that the German will escape the big axe.
Already, there are indications that his bosses at the Glass House are unimpressed with the way the Super Eagles have been playing: the defense has been prone to comical errors; the midfield, lethargic; and the attack, clay-footed.
Another source of worry for his employers have been the manager’s team selection, particularly with him fielding some players out of their natural positions.
Rohr has also been fingered as the one that fueled the match bonus crises in the Eagles camp that embarrassed the country greatly.
The list of misdeeds appears endless and only a Super Eagles victory over the Indomitable Lions can wash all of Rohr’s “sins” away.
Make or mar game
A game of this magnitude is often decided by the finest of details and the tactical nous of the technical bench.
The Indomitable Lions are managed by Clarence Seedorf, a power-playing, no-nonsense midfield technician back in his playing days. However, the Dutchman is a rookie manager in African football, experiencing his first taste of football management on the continent with the West Africans.
Gernot Rohr, in comparison, is a veteran with more than a decade-old experience working with teams on the continent, including Niger and Burkina Faso.
A Nigerian loss will magnify the shortcomings of a manager that has never won any major title on African soil and may see fans call for him to be sacked and replaced.