Nigeria begin what is expected to be a smooth passage to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations this week, but do so with a shadow over the future of coach Gernot Rohr.
The German’s contract expires in June 2020 and if reports are to be believed, it will not be renewed despite having led the team to the bronze medal at the continental finals this year, and generally improved the quality of the team.
The timing of non-renewal would be incredibly poor, coming in the middle of both Cup of Nations and 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with crucial games to come later that year.
And it creates uncertainty within the playing group over the next nine months, with the squad unsure who they will be working with after June.
Of course, it could just be the Nigeria Football Federation playing hard-ball, with Rohr having already stated he would like to extend, but if they are to get rid of their coach, you would have thought the last few months was the time.
And if they are to keep him, then why not negotiate an extension before the start of the qualifiers to provide certainty for everyone involved?
“I will advise the Nigeria Football Federation to extend Gernot Rohr’s contract because he has brought stability, progress and winning mentality to the team,” ex-Super Eagles star Victor Ikpeba told SuperSport TV.
“I don’t see any reason why the NFF will want to sack a man that must have qualify the team to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in June next year. For me, Rohr deserves a contract renewal and should be allowed to continue with the good job he has been doing.
“How do you think it will look hiring a new coach to manage the Super Eagles after the expiration of his contract in June next summer. In my view, let’s allow Rohr to continue his good job on the Super Eagles.”
One sticking point is that Rohr does not believe in the quality of the Nigerian domestic league and has failed to scout there for players.
He has been called out on this by NFF president Amaju Pinnick on this on a number of occasions, but stuck to his guns.
And so he should – there is far more quality in the European leagues than the sub-standard Nigerian domestic competition, so it is a waste for Rohr to spend time analyzing teams at home when non are of the quality he needs.
You need only look at the performance of Nigerian sides in the CAF club competitions of late to know its clubs are not a hot-bed of talent.
What Nigeria need going into two vital qualification campaigns is certain ty and the NFF should provide that, either way – either Rohr stays or he goes.
The Super Eagles begin their Cup of Nations campaign home to Benin on Wednesday, before travelling to minnows Lesotho on Sunday.
The World Cup qualifiers get under way in March.