Super Eagles: For Gernot Rohr, Wisdom Was Missing in Action

“Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work; Use your head: The more brains, the less muscle” Ecclesiastes 10:10(MSG)

That is one of the age old quotes on wisdom from the Bible. Some other, older, versions actually have the word, ‘wisdom’ inserted in the text. The King James Version of the same verse actually reads, “If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct”

This version also points out the reason why wisdom is needed – ‘direction’. It helps us navigate situations. It is always better to prepare (sharpen the axe), than to toil at cutting; it is better to carefully consider, (use your head, engage the brain more) before taking an action, because the less brain activity prior to a task or decision, odds are that the more physical activity will be needed.

This is the situation in which the Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr, has found himself. The Franco-German coach did not think through the idea of naming team captain Ahmed Musa, and now he has to use his vocal muscle to clarify and defend his reasons for the media and the fans. He could have made the journey easier:

In 2016, Florence Omagbemi was appointed coach of the Super Falcons, and while on the job she had to make some tough calls, one of the hardest being how to handle the situation of Evelyn Nwabuoku the player she met as captain of the team. The Falcons had an important qualifier away at Senegal, the captain was not at a competitive level, and Omagbemi had a decision to make. Nwabuoku was a strong influence in the dressing room and was needed. But her form dictated that the skipper could not be selected.

Omagbemi, who herself had captained the team for almost two decades, knew just what to do: she had a private meeting with the captain and her assistants, and then announced her team list. Nwabuoku’s name wasn’t on the team list, but she was in the travelling party. The players, who had been worried about their captain, erupted with joy when the news spread that their well-liked leader would be with them. The captain was happy, and the morale of the team was raised. Problem solved.

Ahmed Musa was needlessly dragged into a controversy

Rohr did not need to include Ahmed Musa in the team list. All the explanation about ‘non playing captain’ could have been avoided, because there is not one person in the Nigeria Football Federation that would have objected to Musa’s presence with the team. By putting Musa on that list, Rohr opened the door to controversy, because:

He had made it clear that he will only select active players for the Eagles, and Musa has not been active. The former VVV Venlo, CSKA Moscow, Leicester City and Al Nassr forward has been out of job for a while, and is definitely match rusty. If the manager had wanted him with the team, all he needed do was include him in a non-playing capacity; instead, his name headlined the list of invited players. That was a major error as:

It was clear his inclusion was going to be controversial. The hot topic in the weeks leading to the release of that list had been the questions around Musa, and what the coach would do. Rohr is well known for his preference for ‘safety’; the coach seldom looks at new things, he sticks with whatever worked for him in the past. And Musa had worked well. Simple wisdom would have been to defuse the situation by taking the raging debate into consideration, and avoid the brewing storm.

Ahmed Musa has been a fantastic servant to the Super Eagles, and the odds are that he will bounce back, and soon. There was no need to drag him into all these; because he would be reading and wondering if he is hated this much. But this is definitely not about hi, he is just a victim, caught in a vicious cross-fire. Thankfully, Nigerians (can) have short memories; if and when if Musa bounces back, the same crowd would welcome him with open arms.

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