As Argentina celebrated at full time at the Saint Petersburg Stadium, Gernot Rohr shook hands with his opposite number Jorge Sampaoli and walked over to console his dejected players.
Rohr made mistakes in World Cup 2018, but future of Super Eagles is safe in his hands
Rohr shouldn’t pay for the mistakes he made in Russia with his job, the has earned the trust, give it to him.
For the first time in many years, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have made an early exit from a major tournament without being the Bete Noire of Nigerians back home.
After the 1-2 loss to Argentina which sent them out of the World Cup, Nigerians and the world in unison have praised the Super Eagles for their strong display and fight at the World Cup.
No talks of going back to the drawing back, no disappointing feeling from Nigerians and more importantly no calls to sack Rohr, a normal occurrence in Nigerian football after a major tournament.
For Rohr, this is an indication of how satisfactory he has been as Super Eagles coach. Nigeria were never going to win the World Cup, that was never the expectation although there was a feeling that this team would go far in Russia 2018.
The expectation of a long stay in Russia for the Super Eagles was on the back of a strong team that Rohr has built since he was appointed Super Eagles boss in mid-2016.
Before his appointment, Nigerian football was having a low moment. The Super Eagle had failed to qualify for two African Cup of Nation (AFCON) tournaments and there was a struggle to find a suitable coach for the national team.
In came this Franco-German without an exceptional coaching career who has, notably brought in discipline to the Super Eagles.
Team meetings, press conferences, room curfew, breakfast, lunch and dinner times are done in precise routines.
“What is different with this team is the coach,” his captain Mikel John Obi said in a press conference in Uyo just before the World Cup.
“I think the discipline he has brought into the team, the man-management and the attention to details he has brought to this team is the best I have seen in the national team.
No disrespect to the other coaches that I have worked with. Every game we go into, we go into every detail, every little detail.”
This discipline, Mikel spoke of here has been the most important determinant of Rohr’s reign so far as Super Eagles boss.
In a national team that has been known for vast player power, indiscipline, Rohr has managed to put together a regimented and well-managed team that has improved remarkably and had a 2018 World Cup successful qualification campaign.
Rohr, however, has not been without mistakes. In Russia 2018, Rohr’s tactical inaccuracy might have cost the Super Eagles a place in the round of 16.
There are too many questions to ask about his decisions.
Why did he not start with the three-man defence from the first game, why was undefined, why was there no defensive substitution in the second half against Argentina?
Some of his decisions were flawed but that’s football. Even the best coaches make this mistakes.
Rohr shouldn’t pay for these gaffes with his job.
He has shown his faith in youth and took the youngest team to the 2018 World Cup. With a host of talented players also coming through, we should trust the future of the Super Eagles in Rohr’s hands.
Despite his mistakes in Russia, he has earned it.
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