Even though it is not yet ‘uhuru’, we can start saying ‘uh…’ The Super Eagles are well on the way to Russia. The gloominess just some months back is giving way to a real bright light after the dark cloud of back-to-back AFCONs miss. For Gernot Rohr, it has been a 100 percent win record in his three matches in charge. For a manager whose appointment was greeted with questions of ‘Gernot who? He seems to be exceeding expectations. But what makes Gernot Rohr such a big success so far?
If there is anything that Rohr has clearly brought to the team, it is organization. From the way the players report to camp to how they set out on the field of play, the disarray that has always shrouded the Super Eagles seems to have given way. While the NFF will have to get part of the kudos for this, maybe the NFF have also had to adjust to working with someone who expects and is insistent that things are done the right way. Reports from camp also suggest that the duties of the other coaching staffs both foreign and local are well clearly stated leaving little or no room for complains and disorganization.
Discipline seems to have been over flogged in time past. While it is good to have a disciplined team, discipline does not have to do with hanging the players out to dry. All of these players are adults and have different egos. It has been very difficult for some coaches in the past to deal with these egos. In time past, the issue of Victor Moses and Isaac Success supposedly feigning injury to stay out of the trip to Ndola would have become a big issue. Moses who should have been punished and left out of the team was massive in the win against Algeria. Discipline should not be an issue for the media; the coach should know how to have a rapport with his team, punish them his own way and bring out the best in them which Rohr has been very shrewd in.
So far, it seems Coach Rohr is inviting players without sentiments, as it has been the case in the past. It is difficult to look at the list and pick out names that were picked on sentiments. Without trying to denigrate the local coaches, it always seemed they invited some players they had some attachment to especially when it was difficult to justify them. He has also handled the issue of John Obi Mikel very well, his decision not rock the boat based on Mikel’s lack of playing time at Chelsea has been impressive.
Gernot Rohr’s tactical nous has also been impressive. He has made some tactical decisions in his line-ups. Even though it does not seem like he has gotten everything right and we can say that with a benefit of hindsight, some decisions seems to have been borne out of some tactical ingenuity. Like the decision to play Ogenehkaro Etebo who has always been seen as an attacking player at the base of the midfield. Etebo’s burst of pace and energy came in handy in the midfield against Algeria. There is also a sense of game management in the team, they have not gone behind in any of their games so far but they have also tried to manage their leads even when they are under pressure from the opponents.
Even though English is not his first language, he has been communicating with the media very well and saying most of the right things. He seems not to be one for the unnecessary ‘jam-talks’ we have gotten used to in the past. That is a good thing and we hope it continues.
Though it is early days to start giving awards but the praises have been well earned. Rohr’s mandate was to get the Super Eagles to Russia 2018. If he has taken the team a step closer, kudos should go to him. The signs definitely looks very good, we hope he and the team does not get complacent which is looking unlikely based on how he has handled the team so far.
Written by Babatomiwa Ojo- follow him on Twitter @10Qmedia