BRIAN IDOWU (LEFT) THE PLAYER AT THE HEART OF THE LATEST CONTROVERSY
Earlier this month, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr was
widely reported as actively canvassing the Nigeria Football Federation to
increase the bonus of the Eagles, to assure qualification for the 2018 FIFA
It turned out that the interpretation given to the actual
statement made by the coach was at the least, mischievous and at worst, a
misunderstanding of his stuttering English.
The latest reports on the coach suggests that he is
criticising the Nigeria Immigration Services over their failure to issue
passports to foreign-born players he wants to recruit in to the Eagles. But we don’t
think Rohr would ever do that!
First off, Gernot Rohr is a foreigner. We can argue that he
is an ‘important one’, but that does not give him the audacity to criticise the
workings of an arm of the Nigerian government, especially on hear-say: If the
Nigerian passport is issued to Nigerians resident in Nigeria in “two days”,
does that include those who are seeking dual nationality?
Secondly, the mandate that was given to the coach when he
was hired, includes helping in the development of football locally. Surely the Rohr
will realise that the continued hunt for foreign-born players to add the Super
Eagles will be counter-productive to that directive? The reasons for that are
well discussed in an earlier article. Thirdly, let us for the sake of argument, agree that the
boys that play in the Nigeria Professional League are not good enough for the
Super Eagles (I will never subscribe to that argument,
there are 20 teams in the NPFL and each has at least 25 registered players. It
is impossible that at least 2% of them – that is 10 – are not good enough) But
let’s hold that thought anyway:
So, the players in the League are not good enough, what
about the army of players that leave these shores every year? What about the
Nigerians we know playing all over the world, who hold Nigerian passports. There
are none of those that can play? And we have to keep chasing these ones we have
to not only beg, but desperately issue passports?
Finally, Rohr must know that the two most successful national
team coaches in Nigeria, Clemens Westerhof and Stephen Keshi, built their teams
that won the Nations Cup and qualified for the Second Round of the World Cup
around home based players. Are those two instances connected? Was it pure luck?
Rohr is aware that it is hard to argue against facts, and he
seems genuinely eager to make an impression here, after admitting that the
Eagles job is the biggest of his career. Maybe that is why ‘his enemies’ are ‘fabricating’
stories to implicate him. But surely, Rohr would never have said that!