Despite a 2-0 victory over Liberia in the first round of World Cup qualifying Group C fixtures, manager Gernot Rohr has been the subject of severe criticism. Is it warranted?
Much has been made of Gernot Rohr’s managerial stint with Nigeria, and the question remains: is he the right man for the job?
Critics will point to declining possession statistics, a less-than-positive approaches to matches and what they dub a ‘lack of identity’ and ‘unintelligible tactics’ as reasons why the Franco-German should not be in charge of the Super Eagles.
Rohr has delivered since being appointed as Nigeria manager in early 2016, and should not be the subject of the unfair attacks that are being launched by fans and pundits alike.
It would be outlandish to suggest Nigeria were playing ‘attractive’ football before Rohr arrived; the team was more aggressive in attack, obviously, but there never was the brilliant, sweeping style many are supposedly reminiscing about. If anything, there was a tactical naiveté that reared its ugly head at vital moments throughout the years. The current system offers two main drawbacks: primarily, the ‘negativity’ so widely bashed in the Nigerian footballing community, as well as a perceived drop in performances from the team as a whole.
New talisman in Victor Osimhen, has ventured where no Nigerian has ever gone with Napoli. Fortunately, his club form has definitely spilled over to the national team.
As far as the current setup is concerned, Rohr is the right man to lead Nigeria back to their former glories (and World Cup qualification), even if it means sacrificing aesthetic appeal for results. Given the meagre resources at the manager’s disposal, a cautious approach that minimizes the risk of exposing his players’ numerous deficiencies is perfectly understandable. Regardless of your opinion of Rohr, it would be absurd to ignore the fact that he secured a clean sheet against Liberia with a centre-back pairing of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong. Pragmatism is a completely warranted approach in football; as the adage goes, attack wins matches, defence wins titles.
Simply put: If Nigerians want to cheer their players on at the World Cup in Qatar, as opposed to the latter watching the tournament from their couches – Rohr must be given the support he needs to carry out his plan. If not, expect the usual mediocrity to make a swift return.