The Nigeria manager has led his side to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, after overseeing the country’s group stage ouster at the 2018 World Cup but the debate rages on about his future.
The Super Eagles’ next challenge is against South Africa for a spot in the semi-final of the Nations Cup but should the manager retain his post if he is able to overcome the Bafana Bafana and even go on to win the trophy?
Rohr is a good manager.
He would do a fantastic job for countries like Kenya, Benin and Zimbabwe that have no intention of winning the Afcon, much less the World Cup in the foreseeable future. He might even do well with Nigeria during those dark days when we ran a bit dry on young, talented players.
But, not now especially at the dawn of the country’s next golden generation. Nigeria’s present team is brimming with youth, vitality and talent.
They are fast, athletic and skilful. Only five members of the 23-man squad to Egypt are exactly or above the age of 30: Leon Balogun, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, John Obi Mikel, Daniel Akpeyi, and John Ogu.
Yes, their experience is invaluable to the team but none of those are irreplaceable if they quit football today. The last time the Nigerian national football team elicited such promise and excitement in their fans was in 1992, prior to the African Cup of Nations.
The squad that Clemens Westerhof took to Senegal ’92 included Ajibade Babalade and Victor Ikpeba, both of them were teenagers. Not one single member of his 22-man squad was above 30.
They laid the foundation of that wonderful team that went on to rule Africa in 1994 and threatened to conquer the world at the Mundial. We are at a similar moment in history and Rohr is not competent enough to take us forward.
The German has lost connection with that young ‘Manager Rohr’ who famously guided an aggressive, attack-conscious Girondins de Bordeaux to the 1996 UEFA Cup Final only losing to Bayern Munich over two legs.
Now his teams acquire a dull, uninspiring tempo that forces them to react only when their backs are to the wall.
His ideas are not productive which tends to make his teams dull, defensive and reactive. It can be counted on the fingers of one hand the number of games the Super Eagles have played brilliantly under Rohr.
Rohr has also never impressed in terms of match planning and in-game reading.
His team has not been able to play as a unit either defensively or offensively. He makes changes late into the game when it is almost pointless, even when the team’s lapses are obvious even to the blind. That is a testament that he gets overwhelmed by matches.
He is currently in charge of the most talented team he has ever managed in Africa, yet he appeared satisfied with a defeat to Madagascar. That was the first time ever that the Malagasy, ranked 108 by FIFA, has defeated Nigeria. No team that low-ranked had ever gotten the better of Nigeria’s senior side in any competition.
Until Gernot Rohr happened.
Lest we forget, he was also the first manager of the Super Eagles to lose to South Africa.
After three years of being with the Super Eagles, he ought to be at the verge of giving Nigerians a Super Eagles that is feared by every African nation.
It is not impossible. Westerhoff did it.
Nigeria needs a manager like Herve Renard.
The Frenchman has guided both Ivory Coast and Zambia to become African champions, the first coach to win two Africa Cup of Nations titles with two different countries. He is a winner.
He is the current manager of Morocco. All the sides he has managed play with heart, have guts and seek to dominate opponents. Morocco may have lost to Benin but it was down to luck. They played better than Nigeria played in all our three group games at Afcon 2019. If we lost to South Africa playing as Morocco played against Benin, it will be a bearable hurt for most Nigerian fans.
But we all know how that game will pan out. Just like the Indomitable Lions, the Bafana Bafana will be fitter, faster and sharper on the ball. Off the ball, they will be more coordinated, better organized and potently dangerous. Everything the Super Eagles will run short on.
In fairness, Gernot has not done poorly. I noted that earlier. But he could have done better.
He took over a team that failed to qualify for two consecutive Afcons and turned its fortunes around. But that is why he gets paid fairly well. He helped the team qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Amodu and Keshi did it. No big deal.
While it is true that Rohr has produced some decent results in spite of working in less than suitable conditions such as bonus wrangling, poor infrastructure and administrative issues, they are perennial problems in Nigeria and should still be doing better with the potentials in the team.
Gernot Rohr has done his best but the Super Eagles deserve a better gaffer. If Cameroon could hire Seedorf and Kluivert, it is high time Nigeria aimed above “carpenter” coaches.