By Austin Fair Nwaulu
Yesterday at 8 pm [local time], Nigeria’s Super Eagles encountered her Tunisian counterparts in the third place match at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations contest in Egypt which winds up on Friday. Nigeria won.
Well, it’s been a hard-fought battle from the beginning and getting this far is great. But, agreed that there are no minors in football all over the world again, is it a thing to celebrate that we got to this level? That is, are we moving forward or backward?
We may have lost gallantly on our way to winning the cup once again but we failed. That is football anyway – win some lose some you’ll say. The issue is whether we are ready to tackle the grey areas that led to our painful ouster by Algeria in the last match.
I think the time has come for us to decide what we really want from being part of competitions of this magnitude. Whether to participate and make the desired impact or take it as a mere jamboree and an opportunity to fatten our bank accounts, savour good things and show off.
It was the same thing last year at the World Cup in Russia and I think this ‘new level’ started with the coming of our new gaffer, Gernot Rohr. This man seems to be naturally static, no plans in a country that is abundantly blessed with many talents. He is more interested in qualifying for competitions and thinks that is enough.
We had the most disastrous outing at last year’s World Cup with him in charge. After all the enabling powers provided before and at the event proper, all we could win was just one match! Thank God for our shining jersey that apparently dwarfed the big shame. And we came back still thinking and talking Rohr. No local coach is capable and worthy of earning good salary.
This man earns the fattest salary ever as coach, in the history of Nigerian football but will not have a rethink. No fresh ideas. We later journeyed to Egypt still experimenting. No goalkeeper, no matchmaker, nothing. Instead he dropped the known[s] for the unknown[s]. And we kept shut and watched helplessly as we crashed out.
What has Coach Rohr done that a Nigerian coach has not done, even better? Didn’t Stephen Keshi of blessed memory win the cup in 2013 with little or nothing? And, he did it with a balanced team comprised of local and international stars.
Our oyinbo coach who is supposed to know and do better has no time for our local players. He spends the time he is supposed to discover them outside the country. He does not watch our local league. For instance, the only reason he preferred Akpeyi to Ezenwa is because he is based outside. It does not matter which country or status.
So, who cares about the outcome of today’s match? Something we have won many times. It doesn’t cut an ice with me and I am sure a lot of Nigerians are on the same page with me. After all, it will not determine Rohr’s future. He is already guaranteed a stay-back, coupled with an all expense-paid training programme abroad.
Maybe one will just watch it as something to ‘while away’ the night with if the DISCOS in our respective areas don’t do ’extra-trade’ for the match period as they’ve been doing…