Gernot Rohr arrived in Nigerian as national team manager in August 2016, to take charge of the Super Eagles, and got off to a winning start in his first game against Tanzania by a lone goal at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.
Having failed to qualify to defend their title won in 2013, the Eagles failed to qualify for the 2017 AFCON as well, with a lot of chaos around both the management of football and coaches.
Rohr’s first challenge was qualifying the team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Few eyebrows were drawn when the draws for the qualification groups were made and the team was pooled in the same group with fellow African heavyweights, Algeria, Cameroon, and Zambia.
Few would give them a chance of making it to the world cup considering only one nation could qualify out of the group, however, the Eagles qualified with two games to spare and even though they exited the World cup in the group stage, ruing several missed chances and a late kick from Argentine’s Marcos Rojo, for the first time in over five years, the Nigerian fans were united cheering on their green and white nation again not just at a major tournament, but in the biggest of them.
A year later and the team will get a podium finish at the AFCONs, even though the fans would have wanted more, the minimum was achieved.
Rohr also has overseen the making of an averagely much younger team than the one he walked into also and given a bit of stability to the team.
Fast-forward 2021, and the country has qualified for another Nations cup next year and won the World Cup qualification group making it to the playoff round. The football, however, has been far from free-flowing and sometimes very difficult to watch and on those grounds, some supporters have called for the manager to be changed in the run into the 2021 AFCON.
It is justifiable to say based on the kind of football on show in contrast to the quality of players in the team, there’s a need for change, however, Rohr can look back at the job he’s done with the Eagles, puff his chest out and be proud.
BY EMMANUEL WARIPAMO