NFF Decide Gernot Rohr’s Future Following AFCON 2019 Bronze Finish

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will decide on retaining or sacking Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr after they assess the report of the federation’s Technical Committee on the coach’s performance at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, NFF 2nd Vice-President Shehu Dikko has said.

Speaking on Tuesday Live, a nationally syndicated show on government broadcaster NTA, Dikko said the top brass of the NFF were yet to receive a detailed assessment of Rohr’s performance from the technical committee which would inform any decision on the coach’s future.

Rohr, who still has a year left on his contract, led the Super Eagles to third-place at the recently concluded continental football showpiece in Egypt but has come in for heavy criticism over the team’s playing style with many commentators calling for the sack of the former Bordeaux coach.

The coach who have won nineteen and drawn five of the 34 official games he has overseen for the Super Eagles had indicated following his side’s loss in the semifinal to eventual champions Algeria that he would make a decision on his future at the conclusion of the 2019 AFCON but is yet to state if he would be relinquishing his position or staying on with the possibility of signing an extension to his contract.

And replying to questions about the NFF’s course of action on the future of the much-criticized coach, Dikko whilst appearing to defend Rohr’s time with the team, said the NFF was not “blind to the cries of Nigerians” about the team’s playing style and would take it into consideration in their deliberations going forward.

But he also appeared to question the wisdom of firing a coach who qualified Nigeria for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and ensured a return to the Nations Cup after the country missed out on the last two editions.

In an exchange that perhaps reveals that the NFF are minded to retain the services of Rohr, Dikko replied when challenged about the necessity of keeping Rohr when the likes of Christian Chukwu and Austin Eguaveon were sacked for finishing in third place at the 2004 and 2006 AFCONs respectively, with “and where did that take us?”

Although he said that the NFF “cannot be satisfied with third-place”, Dikko alluded to the coach being stymied by a lack of quality in the playing personnel and listed being first to qualify from the group stages and having better metrics than most of their opponents including Algeria who defeated the Super Eagles in the semifinals as some of the positives the three-time AFCON champions can take from the tournament.

The NFF 2nd Vice-President pointed out that Nigeria’s most sustained spell of footballing excellence came with the stability afforded Dutchman Clemens Westerhof who won bronze with the national side at the 1992 AFCON before going on to win gold two years later and qualifying Nigeria for their first-ever men’s World Cup.  

Dikko who also revealed that Rohr’s contract contained clauses which mandated the coach to “support” with the age-grade teams said the coach’s presence at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland, the release of national team players for the Olympic qualifier against Libya and the fact that the U23 head coach also doubles as assistant coach of the national team shows that Rohr has fulfilled that particular contractual obligation.

Speaking about the federation’s efforts in ensuring an ecosystem which would effortlessly ensure a steady supply of players through the ranks, Dikko said the NFF’s “long-term” efforts in that regard will become “manifest” in time to come as the products of their U13 and U15 programmes and the partnership with Spain’s top tier La Liga which he says has provided training for “more than twenty coaches” and seen the setting up of a U15 competition for league sides begin to bear fruit.