Is the Rohr Revolution stalling?


When this article was written after the Super Eagles scrambled a win over Zambia in Uyo, and confirmed their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the feeling was that the coach and the players suffered pre-qualification nerves before the game. But the outing against Algeria in Constantine has confirmed some things, and negatedthe pre-game excuses before the loss to South Africa…

Gernot Rohr seems to have reached his limit: Which can either mean there is nothing left for him to teach the players, or they have stopped learning from him. The second option may not necessarily be his fault: most coaches that have handled the Eagles, have gone from ‘geniuses’ in the early days, to ‘misfits’ at the end of their reigns – Clemens Westerhof, Phillipe Troussier, Shaibu Amodu, Stephen Keshi, Samson Siasia…to name a few. While it’s way too early for Rohr to suffer this ‘disease’ the Eagles have looked ordinary in too many games. Maybe this is because…

There is need to find a replacement for Mikel Obi: The Super Eagles skipper rediscovered his influence in the last couple of years, both with the Olympics team and the Eagles. He was absent against South Africa, and we saw a listless team. The Eagles, again, looked disorganized without him against Algeria. Nigeria suffered when Sunday Oliseh, Uche Okechukwu, and Jay-Jay Okocha retired; we are heading for the same crisis when Mikel leaves. Rohr would have left a lasting legacy if he can find a replacement for Mikel. So far, the German is just tapping into what he met.

Kelechi Iheanacho keeps getting played wrong: Rohr first started playing the Leicester City man as a top striker; he was scoring goals, but his extravagant creative skills deserved more. Rohr stuck him out on the wings against Algeria, and Iheanacho simply disappeared. We know his stock is falling at club level; but his skills cannot be denied. Maybe we can do for him what we did with Mikel in his latter days at Chelsea? And the Iheanacho conundrum is the microscopic version of a bigger one…

Does Rohr know the best midfield combination for Eagles? That question becomes more relevant each day. Wilfred Ndidi qualifies because of his amazing work rate, Mikel because of his distribution…the others should probably be mixed and matched based on opposition. And any coach should be happy to have Oghenekaro Etebo, John Ogu, Alex Iwobi, Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa, et al, waiting in the wings…but he must have a go-to group, and their effective positions. Rohr has the first, not the second.

The good news is that there are still friendly matches to play, the not so good news is that Rohr will put more players in the mix before the World Cup; how will he find the right blend before Russia? The Rohr Revolution is still too young to start fading… 

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