Lagos – The Nigeria football Federation employed Gernot Rohr on the premise that he is the right man to manage the Super Eagles. The belief is that he knows what he is doing and that he possesses the prerequisite that will lead the team to success.
As it is, unless absolutely necessary, there are no indications that the manager will be shown the exit door in the nearest future because “continuity breeds success and it allows a good manager to buy into and develop his idea.”
If Rohr is believed to possess the right knowledge needed to propel the team to success, it presupposes that it is his responsibility to invite players into the team.
But as Nigeria steps up preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this June, the move by Amaju Pinnick, President of the NFF, to meet with retired Victor Moses for his return to the team may creat disharmony in the team.
Moses, a 28-year-old voluntarily announced his retirement from international football in August 2018 positing family and club commitment as reasons for his decision.
Moses, who debuted for the Super Eagles against Rwanda in 2012, played a monumental role to help Nigeria secure her third AFCON title in 2013 in South Africa.
His subsequent contributions to the team were also very overwhelming as well; the qualification of Nigeria for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is still a good moment to remember.
Against this backdrop, Nigerian football fans were amazed at his sudden retirement even as age was still in his favour; Moses no doubt still has much to offer his fatherland.
One can therefore, understand the emotions the NFF president is exuding. Yes! Pinnick believes the player deserves to leave the Super Eagles honourably with some fanfare and he wants to exercise his authority to archive it by convincing him back to the squad.
In an interview with a Lagos tv station, he said, “I believe he is someone that has paid his dues and he shouldn’t just leave Nigerian football unceremoniously. I talk to him every day and I make him understand that he can still return,” Pinnick said.
“He can’t just say he is going and we let him go just like that. I will be meeting with him and his agent soon at a roundtable and even if he wants to go, there must be a ceremony for him to go.
“Just like what England did for Wayne Rooney. We must celebrate them at every point in time.
“Even if he says I’m begging him, I don’t mind. It is not as if we don’t have players, but we need to encourage our players so that others will know that even when they retire, we still have them in mind, even though some of them retire because of ego.”
Well said, but the questions is who is in good position to talk about the return of Moses to the team – Rohr or Pinnick? Is Pinnick’s decision to recall Moses a standard practice or an innovation in Nigeria? Failures and successes of the team, who takes the glory and blame? What then is the role of Rohr as the manager of the team?
Unfortunately, it has been no longer at ease with Moses since the retirement from the national team as the attempt to focus on his club career, has been a herculean task; games have been difficult to come by under new manager Maurizio Sarri, making only six appearances in all competitions and limited to two Premier League games this season.
Funnily enough, Rohr’s men qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations without the wizardry winger; he is expected to reconsider his decision against his will in time for the tournament as preparations heats up ahead of AFCON.
Christian Chukwu, a former Super Eagles handler dwelling on this issue recently was hard on the point that “Moses should be allowed to go.”
According to him, “Moses is a mature man; he knows what he wants and what is good for him. It was his decision to quit; he should be allowed to enjoy his retirement with his family and club.”
Chukwu concluded that there was need for the Nigerian football authorities to concentrate on grassroots programmes to discover talents that abound in the country rather than forcing those who have had their good time for the country to remain in the game.
In retrospect, Chukwu is a good example of one of the players recalled from retirement into the national team that the result turned counterproductive – 1982 World Cup qualifiers between Nigeria and Algeria in Lagos which ended 0-2 in favour of the Algerians.
When Chukwu retired from international football, the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA) felt it was premature and then took over the job of the coach – Otto Gloria – to recall Chukwu and rested Tunji Banjo who was earlier part of the qualifiers till the final game against Algeria which ended shamefully and disastrously.
Thus, Chukwu warned on the need to give Rohr a chance: “I don’t think that Rohr wants to fail, but our support is all the team needs to build the Super Eagles; he has a mandate which he has to meet and I think he must be working towards that. He knows the kind of players he wants and he should be allowed to do his job.”
Godwin Izilein, now Technical Director of Inneh Queens of Benin and ex-Super Falcons coach, however, was quick to defend Pinnick saying that he could not be acting without the support of Rohr.
“Pinnicks move, to me is in the right direction; Moses any day, any time is a player that still has a lot to give this country; for the concern of the Nigerian football, we cannot allow our best to waste away.
“Moses is still very young and clubs are still lurking around to secure his services, why then can’t we get him back into the team. Pinnick no doubt must be working with the support of Rohr to convince him to return and he should go ahead,” izilein advised.
Another ugly development of worrisome interest – taking Rohr’s job – is about the venue to host Super Eagles games.
Pinnick again recently declared that Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr cannot continue to decide which stadium should host the team’s international home games.
Rohr lately has been critical of some venues for Super Eagles matches; in fact, it was his belief that Nigeria do not have good stadium for international matches save for Nest of Champions in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
But, at the completion of the Steven Keshi Stadium, Asaba in Delta State the NFF felt it was good and modern enough for international events as Rohr was still not satisfied with it till date.
In this regard, Pinnick who was speaking on a radio programme “Sports Zone” on Lagos-based Radio station Lagos Talks recently was asked to respond to “some reports” insinuating that the German was not comfortable with the choice of Asaba.
Pinnick then again in a show of “master servant” said, “Gernot Rohr is our employee, we have a good working relationship with him, but he cannot determine where Nigeria will play. He doesn’t have that strength to do that.”
Again in Pinnick’s show of supremacy and intelligence he said with all emphasis, “He doesn’t understand the dynamics of this country, we have a very wonderful relationship with him and like I said, he cannot determine where we play.”
Incidentally, the Steven Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State – the home state of Pinnick – eventually hosted the Nigeria versus Uganda friendly; the final of Federation Cup in November and the Africa Athletics Championships in August, 2018.
The stadium was also proposed to host Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya also but the game was held in Uyo after Rohr publicly pleaded with the NFF to give his team a good and big stadium.
Pinnick in all of these insisted Asaba has good facility even as Rohr has no voice to challenge it. “His (Rohr’s) contract did not say he should determine where we want to play. There is nothing wrong in Asaba, fundamentally it is a brand new stadium, of course there are little issues but for the grass, I know where there are bad pitches and where there are good pitches.
“The pitch in Asaba right now is one of the best in the country, he should come out to say otherwise then I will agree with him,” the CAF First Vice President added.
But in a more civilized manner and like Chukwu said, he wants to deliver; it is only natural that he should be allowed free hands to do his job with the “tools” he feels are good enough and that can give him the results expected from him.
In that regards the NFF will be making progress as it must avoid the “Olise – Africa Guardiola – scenario.” Pinnick has proven to be a result oriented administrator, but the result can only be achieved if the workers are allowed to express themselves rather than been seemingly intimidated. God bless Nigeria!