The Super Eagles coach has been heavily criticized for snubbing players plying their trade in the Nigerian league, but the former Golden Eaglets gaffer has called on fans to consider the reason behind the German tactician’s decision.
Ex-Nigerian international Emmanuel Amuneke has backed current Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr’s decision to rely on foreign-based players to prosecute national assignments since he was appointed to the post.
Rohr guided Nigeria to the 2018 FIFA World Cup and a third-place finish at last year’s AFCON, but Ikechukwu Ezenwa was the only NPFL player he took to both tournaments.
By contrast, of the 18 players Westerhof guided to a runners-up spot at the 1990 AFCON, 15 were home-based stars.
The Dutchman would later lead the Super Eagles to the top of African football in the nineties with local league players making up the bulk of his team.
Many fans would want Rohr to recreate that scenario, but Amuneke insists such would be difficult to repeat because the local league is no longer as strong as it used to be.
“It was a totally different era when Westerhof and Bonfere Jo came, it was a different era, it was during the time our football was evolving, and most of our players were playing in our league, our domestic league was very strong,” The New Nigeria Telegraph quoted the former Barcelona winger.
“Westerhof came, he was able to motivate a lot of players, he was able to bring a lot of players from the local league to the senior team, and the players that were given the opportunity convinced the coach that they could play.
“The era of Rohr is a different ball game; a lot of things have changed. The coach also is doing his best, so we cannot compare or say Rohr is doing better than Westerhof, it is just totally different. But what matters is how to add value to our national team.”