When Gernot Rohr was unveiled in Nigeria on August 9, he was practically unknown and unheralded. Truth be told, many thought and believed that the Nigeria Football Federation and its president, Amaju Pinnick, had continued on their perceived mission of taking the country and its football on another wild goose chase. Indeed history has a splendid way of repeating itself. When Clemens Westerhof was appointed Super Eagles coach in 1989, practically he was Mr. Nobody to the Nigerian public and so has been the case of Gernot Rohr. But what has the former Bayern Munich player done, or what is he doing that has revitalized a team that looked jaundiced and battle weary? When the NFF revealed their choice of manager, many of us had to recourse to Wikipedia. That research ultimately led to smirks and sighs as we discovered that our darling team had been handed over to a coach who had formerly made a living coaching Niger.
But, here are 10 reasons Rohr is succeeding.
1] There is only one focus Normally, the Super Eagles would be preparing for the Nations Cup tournament in January and Rohr would have been appointed on the premise of getting to the semi-final at the least. But that is the last of his challenges. The NFF had to give him an initial two-year contract that takes in only qualifying for Russia 2018.
2] Unbiased selection process: We used to have a lot of questions and queries on the ‘secret’ criterion that was used to invite players to the Super Eagles’ camp – but we are now seeing the result of players knowing that form and availability means that Rohr would give them a just chance in the Eagles’ team.Unbiased selection process
3] Ability to put out correct XIs: Good coaches get their line-ups correct 90% of the time – the 10% they have the ability to correct with substitutions. In his three matches – against Tanzania, Zambia and Algeria, Rohr has gotten his starting XI spot on to execute his plans.
4] Creating hunger in the players It has been a long time that players in the Super Eagles showed any passion for their exalted positions. But it is palpable in this new team with the way and manner they have responded to call-ups, training and in their matches.
5] NFF are in a precarious situation It has not been a really good year for the NFF and they are banking on getting the Super Eagles to Russia to ameliorate a poor performance index. This has allowed Rohr to have his way on team matters that have been altogether altruistic and positively instrumental in the early successes.
Looking to the future Rohr is currently fast assuming the status of the country’s messiah in football – that is comparatively with what obtained before he was contracted. Three months after the appointment and not being privy to the criteria the NFF used for that selection, you and I are suddenly buoyant and optimistic. So what are the specific things that have changed under Rohr’s leadership?
When Group D of CAF’s 2018 World Cup was revealed to compose Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia as Nigeria’s opponents, many of us simply gave up; but two matches into the six-match series, the Eagles are four points clear at the top of the table. But we have to also agree that fate has played its hand in favour of Rohr’s Eagles. Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia have contrived to cancel themselves out to give the Eagles an improbable lead though it is still too early to say Uhuru.Better FIFA ranked Cameroon have managed just two points from their two matches while Algeria sit at the foot of the table with one point while Zambia also boast one point.
But come August 28, 2017 – if the Eagles get another three points in Uyo against the Lions of Cameroon and Zambia can hold Algeria [we are dreaming] then Russia would be so much closer for the landing of the Super Eagles. The above does not negate what Rohr’s contribution has been to the Eagles having capacity to soar once again. You could also say time and chance happened to Rohr but you will in fairness have to concede to the German coach that he has shown an adeptness to recognise that it is his and the Eagles’ time!