Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr, is a lucky man to still keep his job after the Nigeria’s first round exit at this year ’s World Cup in Russia and this assertion could be stoutly defended if the rate at which the country’s coaches were either relieved of their jobs or in some few cases ‘walk away’ from the job are anything to go by.
Since Nigeria made their debut at the Mundial, none of the coaches that handled the team at the World Cup has been opportune to keep their post after the global showpiece. Dutch Clemense Westerhof (1994), Serb Bora Milutinovic (1998 ), Adegboye Onigbinde (2002), Swede Lars Lagerback (2010) and Stephen Keshi (2014) all did not get second chance to keep their job. Like Westerhof and Milutinovic, who both guided the team to second round outings, Keshi was booted out despite being the first indigenous coach to take the team out of the group stage.
He was however forcefully returned for momentarily due to his connection with some top Nigerian government official but still fell out with the FA before his shock demise in June 2016. For 65-year-old German Rohr, today’s Matchday 2 2019 AFCON qualifier against the Pirates of Seychelles is not just another international assignment but a match that puts him under intense scrutiny. Nigeria, at any level be it men or women football, is class apart from Seychelles and as such there is no bases for comparison.
However, as fate would have it, both will be contesting for three points at stake at Stade Linite, Victoria, to get their hope of clinching a place at the tournament scheduled for Cameroon in June next year. With rich experience of African football having managed Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso, Rohr knows what is expected by the fans back at home, stating: “We are not here on vacation. We are here for serious business.”
The manager has been under criticism for the decision to invite just one home-based player against a team with no historical value in football but he seems to know that the game is more of a banana-skin task hence he does not want to take chances against the Lilliputian opponents “We have a young, ambitious team and Nigeria has a better pedigree in the game of football than Seychelles. But we must not underrate them in any way or take things for granted.
“The World Cup is behind us now, but we must allow the lessons we learnt in Russia to make us better and more efficient in our approach. “The Cup of Nations is the focus now and we must get a good result on Saturday to get our campaign back on track, and then we can now look ahead with determination to win the remaining matches in our group to qualify easily for the championship.”
Before the Super Eagles missed out of the 2012 Nations Cup jointly hosted by Ga- bon and Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria had always viewed the tournament as its birthright owing to a long-stretch of consecutive appearances. However, after missing the last two editions, the fear of not featuring in the next edition is still being nursed by a large percentage of fans and Rohr knows that anything short of full points in today’s game will see his job on the line considering that he ignominiously led Nigeria to a 2-0 home loss to South Africa, a team which has a poor record against Nigeria at senior level. It is on record that Rohr was in charge when Nigeria failed to qualify for the last edition, a failure of monumental proportion if the way that led to the exit of Samson Siasia in 2011, under whose reign the Super Eagles played some of its most attractive football in a long while, is to be considered.
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