It was funny reading former Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, putting the blame of the team’s failure to qualify for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup on former NFF President, Amaju Pinnick.
Rohr in an interview with Osasu Obayuwana on Eagle7 FM said his sack towards the concluding part of the qualification cost the team the ticket, that he would have qualified the team had he not been sacked.
As they say in our local parlance, “it is he who is not at home that would have beaten up the policeman.” This is how laughable Rohr’s statement is.
Nigerians saw that the Super Eagles under Rohr had completely lost all strength of character and showed no promise in the qualification series.
They were particularly alarmed by the loss to Central Africa Republic on home soil in Lagos and the failure to beat Cape Verde. This killed all confidence on the technical crew and there was a general cry for the sack of Rohr.
It was further argued that a team already faltering with such weaker teams as CAR and Cape Verde, raises no promise on performing well at the World Cup proper.
We had been in this situation before, when under Bonfrere Jo, the team showed such weakness against Sierra Leone and Liberia in the qualifiers for the Korea/Japan 2002 FIFA World Cup. It took the sack of Bonfrere and the appointment of coaches Shuaibu Amodu, Stephen Keshi and Joe Erico, all sadly late now, to salvage the situation.
Rohr had every opportunity to prove himself, but he didn’t. He perhaps also forgot that after his poor tactical approach against Argentina at the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as against Algeria in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, it took Pinnick’s almost unilateral decision to renew his contract for another term, against the wide condemnations of not just his low results but the glaring poor quality and coordination of the team.
He failed to improve into the World Cup qualifiers, especially in a group of clearly weaker opponents that seemed gifted to the Super Eagles.
Rohr is also aware that the NFF provided adequately for his team, from the arrangement of Grade A tune up matches, to high quality training camps in Europe and America, to standard travel arrangements which were mostly by chartered flights, to luxury hotel accommodations anywhere the Eagles were, to payment of allowances, bonuses etc. Even in the face of a difficult economy and reserved support by the sports ministry, Pinnick invested himself to ensure that the team lacked nothing.
The least Rohr could have done was to reciprocate by bringing out his best and the best of the team but the general conclusion was that he had come to his wits end.
He was also aware that the Sports Minister was all for the engagement of indigenous coaches and there was huge pressure on Pinnick to concede to his sack, but he did everything to protect him. Unfortunately, his poor outings gave vent to his sack after the Minister had reportedly got the nod of the Presidency to intervene in the affairs of the team.
It is almost a year now since Rohr got out of job and if he was such a good coach, he should be engaged by now.
Surely, it is regrettable that the Super Eagles are not in Qatar, but Nigerians do not regret the sack of Rohr. Given his negative impact on the character of the team, Coach Austin Eguavoen and his crew couldn’t have revived it in the short time they had to work, for if they were that poor against CAR and Cape Verde, Ghana was already a tough task.