He arrived in August 2016 and has led the Super Eagles to two major tournaments including a third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Still, Gernot Rohr’s work has not been appreciated by some fans and former Super Eagles players. According to his critics, Rohr has underachieved despite leading Nigeria to two major tournaments with a game to spare.
Former Nigeria internationals have come out to speak out against the work Rohr has done in the last four years with many calling on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to let him leave at the end of his contract which expires in June.
1980 Africa Cup of Nations winner, Segun Odegbami has been a major critic of Rohr, and he recently reiterated his claim that the former Bordeaux manager must go.
‘With Gernot Rohr, he has taken us to the World Cup and brought us back and to the Nations Cup, but has disappointed us, Odegbami told Brila.
‘We have a generation of Nigerian players who have played at the highest level that are capable of training our national teams. It is time we start looking in their direction to bring them in.
His comments were also echoed by 1994 Afcon winners, Finidi George and Ben Iroha. They both shared Odegbami’s sentiments that a Nigerian should be given a chance to lead the National team.
Probably, it’s the reason why Joseph Yobo was appointed as an assistant to Rohr who is yet to sign a new deal with his current contract set to run out in June.
However, while their position is understandable, it should be pointed out that the last time a local coach was in charge of the Super Eagles, the result was not pleasing, and that’s why Rohr deserves more respect.
It also makes one wonder if the constant criticism of Rohr’s work by the ex-internationals is born out of jealousy. Sunday Oliseh was in charge of the team before Rohr came in, and great things were expected from him when he was appointed.
He was even given the moniker “African Pep Guardiola” by the NFF president Amaju Pinnick. However, Oliseh’s time with the Super Eagles did more harm than good.
His well-documented fight with Vincent Enyeama caused disruptions in the team and that eventually led to the retirement of the former Lille goalkeeper.
Eventually, he resigned from the role with Rohr brought in as his replacement. And since the German came in, he has been able to maintain peace and stability in the national team.
Aside from the bonus row that happened at last year’s AFCON, there has not been any trouble in the Super Eagles camp since Rohr came on board.
One of the reasons why Rohr is being criticised is because of his conservative approach to games. A lot of his critics believe the Super Eagles are not adventurous in games despite having the quality.
However, that is not true as the Super Eagles have been involved in some entertaining games under Rohr. Games against Algeria and Cameroon in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers show the criticism of his approach to matches his harsh.
The problem with modern football fans is that they want teams to pass it out from the back and also play the tiki-taka way. However, results are the only thing that matter in football, and Rohr has been able to achieve that with the Super Eagles.
His approach to games may not involve the aesthetics fans want to see, but it is not a defensive style. Rohr’s Super Eagles can be called a counter-attacking team, similar to the Real Madrid squad of Jose Mourinho.
With 22 wins and 60 goals from 39 matches, the criticism of his style his unjustified.
He has also been called out for his treatment of the country’s local league football, but it’s not the job of Rohr to develop these players.
It’s the time for critics to channel their anger to the right authorities. Countries like South Africa, Egypt and Tunisia have a lot of home-based players in their national teams because they have a well organised local league.
If Nigerians want more representation of local players in the national team, then they should challenge the League Management Committee(LMC) to start doing the right thing with our local league.
The national team is not a charitable organisation where invitations are handed out to players just because they play in Nigeria. And to say he has not given players in Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) a chance is a fallacy.
In his press conference ahead of the AFCON 2021 qualifiers against Benin last year, it was revealed he has called up over 20 players from the NPFL since he was appointed as Super Eagles manager.
Although Rohr may have his issues, some of the criticisms levelled against him have been unjustified, and it’s born out of hate.
It’s time for ex-internationals to show the German tactician a little bit of respect by appreciating the work he has done in the last four years.