It is no longer news that the Super Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the play-offs enroute qualification for Qatar 2022 World Cup without a Head Coach! A bit historic, right?
In a largely pulsating, nerve-breaking, tension-soaked encounter with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde, the Super Eagles managed to hold their own till the end of proceedings to top Group C with 13 points. Had the Sharks achieved their goal, it would have been a different ball game by now.
Cape Verde had a game plan from the onset and were determined to achieve that. They came with the plan to contain the Eagles, and break them on the counter. They did this severally but somehow were not successful.
They tore the Nigerian defence to shreds in most instances and exposed the glaring fact that we do not have formidable center backs at the moment. William Troost-Ekong was totally missing in the match and gifted the opponents their equalizer. He stood looking, unbelievably flat-footed as Ianique dos Santos Tavares slid in for the equalizer after Wilfred Ndidi had already shielded his own man.
The silly mistake from Leon Balogun could have given the match to the Blue Sharks in the dying minutes of the encounter when he was turned inside out and taken out by an opposing winger, just near the vital area. He rather brought down the player. Which professional defender does that?
Chidozie Awaziem was completely over-worked in the game because he had to cover up for both Troost-Ekong and Balogun severally.
The midfield did well to contain the onslaughts of the Cape Verdeans thereby not initiating the needed attacks.
The forward did some bits of their jobs, though the Blue Sharks’ keeper, Ryan Mendes, was in his elements on the night thereby denying beautiful efforts from Alex Iwobi and Joe Aribo. Victor Osimhen, unarguably the man of the match, was everywhere, box-to-box. The opposing defence would rather pray not to have him against them any time soon.
Now Gernot Rohr!
Can someone tell me what this man is still doing around the Glass House. Can someone explain to me what Rohr meant by saying we should exercise more patience with the team (in his post-match interview)? For how long will Gernot demand for patience and time? After how many years of being in charge? I thought Germans are known for their self-pride and nobility, can he not understand the body language of the Nigerian populace (not NFF) and take a bow?
What pattern of football are we actually playing? Why allow the players throw the ball upwards (to Osimhen always) when we have holding midfielders who can be comfortable with the ball and initiate attacks tactically? This team lacks plan; this team lacks direction; this team lacks vision.
When I consider that our current players play in relatively good clubs in Europe, I seem to wonder what is actually wrong. Now I know; GERNOT ROHR! Compare this team with the team that won the 2013 AFCON under the late Stephen Keshi. We had relatively unknown names like Ejikeme Uzoenyi, Sunday Mba, Godfrey Oboabana, Juwon Oshaniwa and the rest, who mostly play for modest home and African clubsides. They combined with established stars like John Mikel Obi, Vincent Enyeama, Victor Moses, Ike Uche and delivered.
Looking at the caliber of teams going for the play-offs, I wonder if the Super Eagles would scale through to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The chances are very slim given the antecedents and what has played out recently. If Gernot Rohr continues to be in charge, bet me, only a miracle will take us to Qatar.
How can a man, who has been in charge of the Super Eagles since August 9, 2016 (5 years, 3 months and 7 days), still be asking for patience? Does he need a doctorate degree before he will start work? He has played 64 games with the Eagles, won 35, drew 16 and lost 13. That gives an average win percentage of 54.69%. Summarily, that is mediocrity by my reckoning.
Rohr does not seem to know his objectives with the Super Eagles. He keeps exploring his luck all the time. Change the pattern to suit the abilities of the players collectively. Do not stick to what you think suits you as a coach.
Why on earth would Rohr bring back Jude Odion Ighalo when we have Paul Onuachu and Taiwo Awoniyi who are painting Belgium and Germany red with goals in their respective clubs? Same trial and error method. If you must bring in Ighalo, why must he start the match? The momentum in Saudi Arabian football is not same as needed on the night. Ighalo has served this nation and why must you bring him back to tarnish his retirement?
Onuachu is very good and calculated in the air. Why not explore Onuachu and Osimhen in a 4-3-3 formation with Samuel Chukwueze tormenting from the flanks, equally assisted by the forward-minded Chidozie Awaziem? There is also Kelechi Iheanacho. Why stick to 4-5-2 tactic in a match you are supposed to be dominant? That means you needed a draw thereby putting the nation in high tension.
We have the strikers at the moment. Blend them, instruct them on positioning and they will score. At the moment, the department most in need in the Eagles is the central defence, not the forward line. If the Eagles are going to prosecute the play-off matches in March 2022 without a new coach, it means they will continue to make history as the team heading to the World Cup without a coach, without a visible manager.
Azuka Edokobi is a Writer , a Farmer, a Supply Chain Expert and an Entrepreneur