Nigeria are through to the final playoff round of the CAF 2022 World Cup qualifier after playing a 1-1 draw with Cape Verde at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Tuesday.
But following the result, rumours began to circulate that Gernot Rohr could be sacked as the coach of the Super Eagles.
Many who are not familiar with the Super Eagles could find the rumours shocking because how do you sack a coach who is just two games away from leading his side to the World Cup?
However, if the rumours appear to be true, it is hard to argue that Rohr does not deserve it. Rohr assumed his role as Super Eagles coach in 2016, and he has done a brilliant job.
He took over a team that had failed to qualify for back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations and led them to the 2018 World Cup with a game to spare.
It was not a mere feat. Nigerians are used to using the help of calculators to determine Nigeria’s fate in qualifiers, but Rohr came on and led the team to the 2018 World Cup with ease.
It is even more impressive, considering the Super Eagles beat Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia to pick the qualification ticket.
Although Nigeria got knocked out in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup, Rohr kept his job, which he rightly deserved.
The German tactician continued his qualification feat as he led Nigeria to 2019 AFCON with a game to spare. But the Super Eagles finished third at the end of the tournament, and many felt that should have been the end for him.
However, he held on to his job, which looks like a wrong decision now. While Rohr has done brilliantly by bringing stability to the team, the Super Eagles have regressed under him since the 2019 Nations Cup.
The Super Eagles looked like a lost team under him. The general performance is not exciting to watch, with the team lacking an identity.
Their games are boring to watch and opponents, irrespective of their status, believe they stand a chance against the Super Eagles.
Not only that, Rohr’s player selection and management has also been called into questioning. He is a coach that hardly gives players a chance to show their quality in the team.
He would rather stick to the status quo even though it is obviously not working. Kevin Akpoguma is a player Rohr chased for years, yet since the Hoffenheim defender switched allegiance, he has not gotten a good run of games.
Players like Ola Aina, Semi Ajayi, Tyronne Ebuehi and Chidera Ejuke deserve to play regularly, but they have not been given a fair chance.
Such decisions and the team’s lack of direction has led to calls for his sack, which is the right call. However, while Rohr deserves to go, sacking him now is not an option.
The former Burkina Faso manager signed a two-year contract extension in 2020, with some conditions attached to his new deal.
He was given the objective of winning next year’s AFCON and leading the team to the World Cup. Although it is unlikely he achieves the target, he is still on course, which is why he deserves at least a fair chance.
Also, with the Africa Cup of Nations less than two months away, sacking him now could jeopardise the team’s chance of success, no matter how small it is.
It will be difficult for a new coach to come in now and implement his ideas less than two months before a major tournament.
And given that there are no international breaks between now and January, he will not get the chance to meet the players until a few days before the start of the tournament.
Besides, there are no able replacements right now. And it’s also important to note that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will have to pay him a severance package if he is sacked, which the body cannot afford now as they are cash-strapped.
Considering all these factors, sacking Rohr right now is not an option, even though he is out of his depth and the job has outgrown him.