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Rohrbish

The headline of today's piece is not original. Got it from a WhatsApp sports platform. What an apt coinage. I chose it after listening to Gernot Rohr's interview after the non-event in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Read him. "Long long time we play goalless... wanted to be solid... Happy for our goalkeeper... after injury to Osimhen everybody was afraid and wanted to fight for him. They fight very well. This draw for us, still the top of the table... Not official but very close now to qualification... All the games are difficult, no little opponents... everybody is well organized... difficult pitch... Congrats to the players show that they can fight together and make a goalless draw away..."


"Happy for our goalkeeper" "They fight very well" "All the games are difficult" "No little opponents, everybody is well organized..." "Congrats to the players show that they can fight together and make a goalless draw away." Can you imagine, such a post-match interview in a group involving Sierra Leone, Benin and Lesotho? That after four matches we are yet to qualify? No little opponents? When they were growing we were standing still? Let me take some selected results of last Tuesday Central Africa 0 Morocco 2, Togo 1Egypt 3 Before then, Morocco 4 Central Africa 1; Egypt 1Togo 0; Sao Tome & P 2 South Africa 4; Mozambique 0 Cameroun 2 Champions are made of sterner stuff, home and away. With due respect to the Leone Stars, six solid points against them, and qualification guaranteed with two matches to spare, we would have stopped Rohr from wasting scarce funds by inviting an armada of foreign based for the remaining two matches. 


But here we are, I repeat, in a group that has Benin, Lesotho and Sierra Leone, we are still struggling to qualify? Not so with Mali, Morocco, Cameroon, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia, who are home and dry. Lets rewind to Benin... Four goals up, I was at the Lagos airport and switched off to board my flight. On landing in Uyo, it was my driver who welcomed me with anger. How Eagles fumbled and messed up... "Sir, it is unbelievable, we could have lost blah... blah... blah..." Initially I did not understand what he was talking about, that Eagles could have lost? Which match? The one they were four goals up? I switched on my phone to be confronted with one of the greatest wonders of African football. Nigeria 4 Sierra Leone 4, on Nigerian soil! 

Let Sierra Leone lead 4-0 and let Nigeria rally back to level up and the world will understand, but Nigeria to scored four goals and Sierra Leone came back to level? Unbelievable. Wonders shall never end! I have heard and read so much. How the Benin pitch was horrible, the same pitch on which they scored four unreplied goals! Why should the deputy governor, sports minister and NFF chairman train with the Super Eagles? Distraction, yes, but for how long did they train? Did the training take away who Ahmed Musa is? Excuses that fall flat on their faces. The Nigerian sports space is awash with unrestrained anger. "Rohr must go!" "Pinnick to follow." After the friendly matches against Algeria and Tunisia, it became clear that the Franco-German coach had nothing to offer. That despite the abundance of talent, he lacked the capacity and capability to put together a team that can hold her head high in Africa before venturing onto world stage. It has taken Rohr years to put a team together in a country where the Nations Cup has been won even by "local" coaches. I repeat that qualification in a group that involves Benin, Lesotho and Sierra Leone should never have been a problem, yet here we are. With few months to the competition proper next year, we cannot boast of credible players in relevant positions. He is still experimenting, with the goalkeeping area as a case in point. The last time I wrote about Rohr, I expressed the sentiments of many who believe "local" coaches can do better than the man we now have in the saddle. "...too many premises we have put out, but none changes the fact that Rohr's team has no character, colour or texture. "Westerhof's 1994 team played same way as his 1990 team borne out of better understanding and time together. The same cannot be said of Rohr's team, yesterday, today and maybe tomorrow." This was an opinion in October. Today we are still repeating the same thing. Yes, there are those who believe we should give him some more time? Four years after? I remember the story of a bad driver who three times has nearly killed you. You report to a friend and he says "maybe you should give him some more time to kill you?" I rest my case. Till next week, by His grace.


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