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Eagles: Deficient Rohr not bigger than Nigeria

Th For every round robin qualifier contest for the Africa Cup of nations or the World Cup, it is always important to be in a commanding position on the table. No doubt, Nigeria is one of the big teams in African football but over time, the Super Eagles have been inconsistent. We recall that in the games recorded in the last window on the continent and beyond, the Super Eagles stumbled to record the most embarrassing result.

Nigeria lost 1-0 to Central African Republic (CAR) in Lagos. No one saw that coming. We make bold to say the first two games won in the Qatar 2002 qualifiers were won by luck not the tactics and management coach Gernot Rohr. Nigeria is ranked by FIFA as 32nd in the world and fifth in Africa while CAR is 124th in the world and 32nd in Africa. And so, how the Eagles lost the match beats the imagination of many. Against Liberia, it was due to the individual brilliance of Kelechi Iheanacho that propelled the country to a 2-0 victory. Away to Cape Verde, two defensive errors earned the Eagles another 2-1 win.

Osimhen pounced on a rebound for the first goal while the second was an own goal. The defeat suffered in Lagos reflected the deficiency of Rohr. Eagles’ 2-0 win in the away fixture in Duala was not enough to qualify Nigeria for the playoffs and with Cape Verde on seven points against Nigeria’s nine, a ticket to the playoff stage cannot be guaranteed until the last day except Cape Verde loses surprisingly at home to Liberia. Getting a ticket to Qatar now appears dicey because Nigeria could drop out of the top five positions in Africa in the FIFA Rankings with Egypt (sixth), Ghana (seventh), Cote d’Ivoire (eighth) and Cameroon (ninth) waiting for a slip to climb the ladder.

If Nigeria manages to pick the only ticket in Group C as expected, the country must also ensure a top five place on the rankings. This is because the top five will be seeded to face the remaining five for the final round of qualification playoffs. No doubt, it is better to be among the top five in order to avoid other football powerhouses like Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. But Egypt and Ghana are among those expected to be between sixth and 10th place. Sadly, it is tough for Nigeria especially because Rohr’s competence is in doubt because he has been unable to deploy the players’ accordingly for results.

The current players are good but Rohr is deficient in the discharge of his duties. The last two games against Liberia and Cape Verde are very crucial and they are mustwin games. Play-off ticket is not automatic yet for Nigeria while the ticket to Qatar is still dicey because of the hot and cold nature of the Eagles due to the deficient handler in charge, Rohr. We believe it is only his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), that are ‘blind’ to the deficiency of the Eagles manager. On the global stage, the recent FIFA international window was quite interesting. In Europe, world champions France won the UEFA Nations League in a dramatic way.

The French defeated Belgium 3-2 in the semis after fighting from two goals down to earn a berth to the final. Against Spain in the final, France again came from behind to win 2-1 in regulation time. Germany and Denmark had a good run in the World Cup qualifiers and the two countries picked tickets to feature in the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo in the colours of Portugal scored four goals in two matches for his country to show that age has nothing to do with his goal scoring potency. Against Luxemburg, he recorded a hattrick in Portugal’s 5-0 victory.

He is now the first player in football history to record 10 international hat tricks, no doubt an amazing football legend. Top teams in Africa showed class and hunger to be at the World Cup. Ghana, Algeria, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa recorded impressive wins home and away to be on course for the trip to Qatar next year. Senegal became the first team through to Africa’s play-offs for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after winning their qualifier against Namibia. Morocco joined Senegal in the play-offs as they beat hosts Guinea 4-1 in a Group I clash decided in Conakry. As it is, the two matches are must wins for the Eagles against Liberia away and Cape Verde at home.

However, we believe Cape Verde trailing two points behind Nigeria; will fancy their chances of beating Eagles anywhere in Nigeria. This cannot be ruled out especially with the shock defeat suffered against CAR in Lagos. We never expected the Eagles to be in this kind of situation after winning their first two matches and now the country is on a cliffhanger in the race to the Qatar 2022 World Cup. The operation to win six points which came up before the October games was not actualized and now the six points must be won in November. The NFF should consider giving Rohr technical assistance for these crucial games because the Eagles’ manager is definitely not bigger than Nigeria.

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