Despite the criticisms, his strained relationship with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the German tactician will continue in his role as coach of the Super Eagles
Gernot Rohr’s new deal was made official when NFF’s president, Amaju Pinnick, shared the news on his official Twitter account.
While the two parties had been locked in contract talks for months, Rohr’s future was still in doubt until Pinnick made the announcement last week.
There were even rumours that the Ministry of Sports were considering former Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, as his replacement, but it evaporated the moment Pinnick confirmed Rohr’s new deal.
The new contract is a big win for Rohr who believes he’s building something great with the team, and he’s not ready to leave it despite NFF’s attempt to frustrate him.
Time will tell if it’s a wise decision to sign a new deal, but the former Bordeaux manager has a new two-year contract, and it means he’s set to become Nigeria’s longest-serving manager.
However, after signing a new deal, Rohr has two very important objectives, according to NFF’s president.
We can now focus on qualifying for the World Cup and winning the Nations Cup. In truth, these are sacrosanct and Coach Rohr is aware of these conditions. Like the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development has rightly noted; we are uncompromising in these goals.
— Amaju Melvin Pinnick (@PinnickAmaju) May 27, 2020
The 66-year-old is tasked with the mission of winning Nigeria her fourth continental title and also leading the country to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which leads to increased pressure for the German.
Before taking a look at the objectives, it’s important to see how Rohr has fared in his previous tournaments with Nigeria.
How Has Rohr Fared In Previous Tournaments?
Although the Super Eagles job is not for the fickle, Rohr was not under pressure to win a title for Nigeria given the country had missed out on qualification two consecutive Africa Cup of Nations.
His mission was to lead Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup, and he did that convincingly, breezing through a group that had Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia without losing a game (at least on the pitch).
Nigeria’s naivety saw them crashed out at the group stage of the World Cup, but it was still good learning experience as most of the players were playing at their first major tournament.
Rohr and the Super Eagles did not have to wait long before playing at another tournament which came a year later.
The 2019 Afcon held in Egypt and Nigeria qualified for the second consecutive major competition with a game to spare. With most of the players now having the experience of playing in a tournament, Nigeria finished third in Egypt.
Are The Targets Realistic?
Having led Nigeria to two tournaments, it was inevitable Rohr will be tasked to win the next Afcon and in fairness, he can’t play young squad card anymore, something Rohr himself acknowledged.
Speaking in a recent interview, Rohr revealed he is ready for the challenge, although he did urge caution because Nigeria is not the number one nation in Africa.
“When you go to a tournament it is to win it,” Rohr told BBC. My contract all the time is a risk because it is finished when we are eliminated from a competition – whether the AFCON or World Cup,” he explained.
“I took the risk already when I arrived, and it is still the same. But I am very optimistic because now we have a team which is playing good football and I have confidence in my players.”
However, while the Super Eagles are one of the favourites for the next AFCON, tournament football is always tricky, because having the best team does not always translate to automatic victory.
Although Rohr has built a formidable squad since he arrived, there are a lot of factors that come into play at major tournaments.
Joachim Low has been in charge of Germany since 2006, but it was not until 2014 he won a trophy- the biggest prize in football.
In Rohr’s case, however, he knows Nigerians are running out of patience and will be ready to pounce if he comes back empty-handed in 2021.
But it’s also critical to note international tournaments are challenging to win; something Rohr also pointed out.
“We finished third in the last one, and everybody wants to progress. But we know also that it is very difficult to win this tournament because we are not number one in Africa.
“But it is good to have these milestones and ambition,” Rohr added.
How Key Is The AFCON To Rohr’s Future?
Rohr’s new deal expires at the end of 2022, but he may not be around till that time unless he’s able to win the next Afcon.
Despite his attempts to lower expectations, winning 2021 Afcon in Cameroon provided it does not get postponed could be the only way Rohr keeps his job till the end of his contract.
The context in which Pinnick explained why winning AFCON is important showed Rohr is as good as gone should Nigeria fail to win.
Also, the drama that played out before Rohr’s contract was extended hints NFF were forced to offer the German a new deal and will terminate his contract immediately they find a reason to do so.
Even a pro-Rohr like this writer will find it difficult to defend him if/when this happens. Rohr may have won the battle, but the war is not over, and he’ll need to do the difficult but not impossible job of winning next AFCON to keep the enemies off his back.