By Ade Ojeikere
When it comes to selecting the Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles, everything is possible. In fact, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is one of the most volatile groups with divergent views which isn’t among the registered political parties in the country.
Not even the presence of a new contractual agreement between the NFF and German tactician Gernot Rohr is enough to say that a deal h
You can stretch this argument further by saying that Rohr’s signature and those of his employers won’t justify anything until the country’s first game after June 30.
Rohr’s purported new contract addressed the grey areas of the previous ones, with every party inserting clauses to protect their rights.
Feelers from Germany where Rohr resides suggest that the German is worried over the details of his contract being read in the media.
He isn’t too excited that the non disclosure-clauses of the new contract have been jettisoned, even before it takes off.
Would this be the first breach of a contract that has not been signed by all the parties, with Rohr’s hands raised by his employers as it is the practice globally?
What is worthy of note is that there is a synergy between the coach and his employers, which is critical towards actualising what Nigerians want – watching Super Eagles play well at big competitions, even if the team doesn’t win the trophy. Of course, winning the cup is sacrosanct.
Doubts of Rohr’s function with the Eagles in the next two and a half years were cleared when the federation’s President Amaju Pinnick wrote on his Twitter handle that: ‘’I’m happy to announce that the @thenff and Coach Gernot Rohr have concluded all contractual discussions and he will stay on as Coach of the Super Eagles.
We have always had confidence in his abilities and we are confident that the national team can only go higher from here.
‘’We can now focus on qualifying for the World Cup and winning the Nations Cup. In truth, these are sacrosanct and Coach Rohr is aware of these conditions.
Like the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development has rightly noted; we are uncompromising in these goals,’’ Pinnick wrote.
What Pinnick’s tweets suggested was that the federation took the sports minister along with the drafting of the contract, even if he isn’t Rohr’s employer.
The minister just performed his oversight functions where he would have drawn the federation’s attention to clumsy clauses in the new deal and those Nigerians expressed their reservations during the manager’s previous contract.
One such vexatious aspect was the fact that Rohr didn’t rely much on home-based players although he had exposed over 25 of them.
They didn’t measure up to the standard, but took the experience again from players with the better exposed players to the lower cadre age-grade, not forgetting that Rohr has insisted that Nigeria’s best players are in Europe.
Who can dispute this fact? Perhaps, Rohr’s Nigerian assistants should brace up in their search for good players in the domestic league which has been stopped due to the corona virus pandemic.
The domestic league owners and indeed the organisers should ensure that the players are treated like professionals such that they are condemned to excel during matches.
The inhuman manner with which players’, coaches’ and officials’ allowances and monthly wages remain unpaid running into years can’t motivate them to give their best. It is duty of the league organisers to challenge the club owners to pay their staff.
This writer cannot understand why league organisers have refused to report clubs to their state governors, for those owned by government.
Defaulting clubs shouldn’t be allowed to play matches. The governors’ attention would be drawn to this abnormality and the clubs’ staff paid appropriately, if they hope to continue with the competition.
Those rooting for home-based players in the Eagles should appeal to the league organisers, NFF chieftains and the clubs to use FIFA’s $100,000 for youth leagues properly.
These three groups should truly pick the right players such that those discovered would have long playing span, not recruit ing stunted boys whose future are shorter than those they want to replace.
I want to appeal to the NFF to constitute a youth league committee to run the competition with FIFA’s $100,000 not to share the grant among clubs that are heavily indebted to the banks.
No youth league, no future for the game here, expect they adopt the Rohr policy of scouting for Nigeria-born kids in Europe whose ages are doubtless.
All the NPFL clubs should have youth teams whose players must be secondary school pupils. Any kid born after year 2005 must have birth certificates.
But the federation must insist on tracing them back to their primary and secondary schools which should have their authentic data. It is working in Europe. It should, therefore, work here with sincerity.
Those who didn’t want Rohr’s contract renewed attested to the fact that he introduced new boys who improved the way the team plays.
The average age of the team’s players is between 19 and 24, good for competitions, since that is the range of better football playing nations.
What the regular presence of players in the team translates to is its growth is perpetually at the rebuilding stage. Rohr should with this new mandate use the boys he has for the next one year so that there can be team cohesion when they play games.
The coach should start to take risks with his substitutions so that we can define how the Eagles play under his watch. Nobody describe the team as an attacking or defensive squad.
The team’s defence isn’t right now. The defence could be better with the removal of Kenneth Omeruo, who is too tentative in his approach to the ball while under pressure.
He also doesn’t look like a good runner and is easily bullied off the ball. Did I hear you ask if he shouldn’t be taught what to do to correct these flaws? Over to you, Rohr.
I don’t envy Rohr when it comes to the goalkeeping area. But I take solace in the fact that no team is complete. The clue out of this quagmire would be for Rohr to always field those who play regularly for their clubs. He would be sure of the fitness and alertness.
A few of the goals conceded by the team have been goalkeeper’s poor concentration and inaccurate judgment of the movement of the ball.
Rohr should sit with his employers when the coast is clear for games to be played to plan the number of international friendly matches he wants which would help build his goalkeepers’ confidence.
Even if he knows his first choice, he should allow everyone play games. Possibly, using two in every friendly – one in each half, barring injuries.
NFF chiefs have done well with securing top graded friendly games for the Eagles, except that they are played in Europe and Asia.
We need to bring some of these matches home for the fans to watch and for the home-based players to dream of playing for the country.
No good soccer nation builds its national soccer team on foreign imports. Our soccer growth should be rooted on the domestic leagues whose products should form the nucleus for the age grade teams.
If we stick to this policy, it would be easier to have home grown players to contests for shirts with the foreign-based counterparts.
Nigeria doesn’t have any first-rated defenders, for instance. if we had a plan, Rohr would have seen quality defenders to strengthen Eagles’ shaky defence.
If soccer must enjoy the fillip of growth from the corporate world, it must be repackaged like entertainment. In the 1970s and 1980s, foreign stars thrilled Nigerian fans.
That has changed, with the massive work of our musicians and actors. One feels good as foreigners call Nigerians wearing our traditional dresses Igwe, Igwe – fallout of what they see from interesting drama stories on television.
It is also exciting sitting inside cabs in Europe, listening to Nigerian artistes’ songs on radio and foreigners dancing to it the way we do here.
It isn’t surprising to see entertainment enjoy tremendous corporate sponsorship since governors, business moguls, banking giants and oil industry chieftains attend entertainment shows.
Of course, nobody convinces them on the need to do business with the entertainers, having physically seen the crowds at concerts here and in Europe.
Ade Ojeikere is the award-winning Editor of Sporting Life
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