Rohr
Gernot Rohr

The appointment of German tactician, Gernot Rohr by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to tinker the affairs of the Super Eagles could be considered as a good omen, if only both hands can work together towards qualifying the team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

After the signing ceremony, Rohr who has been given a target to qualify Nigeria for the World Cup, told Thenff.com that with the right atmosphere, the Eagles will not only qualify for the mundial but get to the latter stages of the competition.

“I am enthusiastic to get to work. This is a big challenge because Nigeria has big players everywhere and has the ability to do well internationally,” Rohr said.

“I have a German heart – the heart of a winner. I have confidence that with the right atmosphere and the right support, the Super Eagles have the capacity not only to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, but get to the latter stages of the competition,” he added.

Super Eagles defender, Stanley Amuzie challenges Pharaohs's Muhammed Salah for the ball
Super Eagles defender Stanley Amuzie (center) makes an attempt at the ball against Muhammad Salah from the Egyptian national team (the Pharoahs) during an AFCON qualifying match.

Having failed in their attempt to capture Paul Le Guen last month due to inability to meet with his terms of a contract agreement, the NFF in a swift move decided to engage Rohr, who has accepted the job and obligation to live and work in Nigeria, with the aim of unearthing new talent from the grassroots that will be useful for the senior national team in the future.

The former Bayern Munich defender had his coaching stint with French sides Nantes, Nice, Ajjaccio, Bordeaux and Swiss side, Young Boys before managing Gabon to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations that was co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, leading them to the quarter final stages. His biggest achievement was helping Girondins Bordeaux to the UEFA Cup final, where they lost to Bayern Munich over two legs, 0–2 away and 1–3 at home in 1996.

In contrast, his not too impressive record with countries like Niger and Burkina Faso meant he was relieved of his job for some period before being picked up by the NFF, a question the leaves many scratching their heads about the football house selecting the German coach.

Giving reasons why they (NFF) went for the German tactician, Amaju Pinnick, president of the NFF told Thenff.com: “The factors we considered are his experience and pedigree, the fact that he understands the African terrain and speaks good English. Communication won’t be a problem and he is a very knowledgeable coach.”

Nigeria will meet their most fierce rivals Cameroon, Africa’s top ranked team Algeria, and 2012 continental champions Zambia in Group B in the 2018 final round qualifiers in Russia. The Super Eagles will opens their World Cup qualifying campaign against Zambia in Lusaka on October 3 and host Algeria on November 7. The group winner will automatically qualify for the mundial in Russia and Nigeria will be hoping to seal their qualification ticket.

Rohr’s first task will be a match against Tanzania in Uyo on September 3, in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier and an impressive result will kick-start a good reign in his coaching career for the Super Eagles. The result may be inconsequential considering the fact that the Pharaohs of Egypt have already qualified as the group winner. On Friday, he named a 23-man squad that will confront Tanzania in one of many decisions that would decide the technical and tactical efficiency of him towards reshaping the Super Eagles.

However, if success with the national team is used as a yardstick to determine the appointment of a foreign coach, then Rohr simply doesn’t merit the managerial role, regardless of his experience as coach. NFF president, Amaju Pinnick who has been a fan favorite of a foreign coach since taking over the position in 2014, had hinted that Nigeria’s poor performance at the international level could be transformed with the right expatriate at the helm of affairs, but I am not sure if Rohr was the based choice based on his previous posts.

Perhaps, Pinnick and Rohr must show soccer loving Nigerians the need for them to support their quest to changing the declining state of the Super Eagles, by coming tops in their group considering the fact that, the team’s failure to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations still remains fresh in their hearts.

Again, the football house should be prepared not to interfere in the decision making of the German tactician, as they did with previous coach Stephen Oliseh, in terms of players selection if Nigeria must qualify for the mundial. It’s quite obvious that pock-nosing in the affairs of any given manager Nigeria appoints has always been the mark of the NFF, something which must change.

With adequate preparation before the Super Eagles confront Zambia in Lusaka in October, it’s believed that the new manager could pull surprises in the group if he selects the right players for the encounter.