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Odegbami: New Targets – Champions of Africa and Semi-finalists of World Cup!

Odegbami: New Targets – Champions of Africa and Semi-finalists of World Cup!

There are several matters that have arisen from the debris of my columns of the past two weeks. I have received more responses to them in one week than I did since the start of the year. They seem to have touched some very raw nerves.

Even my football compatriot from the past, the great Central Defender, Godwin Odiye, wrote to me from his base in the United States of America, taking a contrary position to my decision not to join in the celebration of a Bronze medal from our Egypt 2019 AFCON campaign.

Some people have also said that, with my remarks about him both on television and my writing, I am championing the sack of Gernot Rohr as coach of the Super Eagles.

It is important, therefore, to get the facts right.

The content of my columns and interviews is entirely my personal opinion.

It has no authority of any sort beyond that.

As an official Sports Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, although without an office or a portfolio, the least I can do to justify occupying that position is to express what I think about issues in sport without the power of enforcement.

That is the authority I have derived from a dedicated 4 decades of my life in sport. There are serious issues that touch on the emotions, sensibilities and possible livelihood of millions of people across the country. It will be a dis-service to keep silent on such issues.

There is no right or wrong in my expressions, just positions that provide some illumination that can help set agenda, can drive causes, and help untie difficult knots.


Gernot Rohr – end of the road?

On Gernot Rohr, I said it without any equivocation that if I was in charge of Nigerian football during the last AFCON, I would send the German away from the Nigerian bench after the match against Madagascar. I would not sack him on the day or during the championship.

My reason is simple – he gambled and took the match lightly by deliberately fielding a team that did not represent the best of the squad. He adduced no reason for what he did. Rather, he laughed it off and expressed relief that Nigeria had already qualified from the group before the match.

Unfortunately, that action exerted a heavy toll on the country’s chances at the championship and on the Nigerian public.

At the championship, the country paid a huge price by taking a more difficult route, with all the additional tension and pressure, to advance through the knock-out stages.

On the Nigerian public, what Gernot did not realise is that whole industries and millions of Nigerians relied on the success of the Super Eagles for livelihood and even survival. I am one of those badly affected.

Also Read: Bility Reacts To 10-Year Ban, $509k Fine By FIFA: ‘I’ll Fight For The Soul Of African Football’

When the Super Eagles fail to win a championship, or fail to qualify for a major championship, or lose a match they should have won and prematurely exit a championship, millions of people suffer, psychologically and physically, particularly those in the unofficial but thriving local football economy.

Most affected are journalists. Personally, my work in the media including dedicated coverage and columns and multi-media production of programmes are all affected. Media organisations, including television and radio stations, all suffer from stopped patronage. Ask every television station in Nigeria what their greatest source of revenue is outside of political campaigns. The answer is international sports events, especially when the Super Eagles are playing and winning matches and trophies in a championship. A bad loss brings a halt to further income.

The years between 1993 and 1998 must mark the best period in history of the economic growth of the sports industry in Nigeria, a period of 5 years during which the Super Eagles recorded their greatest achievements in football. It was an eye opener for close observers of the sports business environment.

In short, advertising agencies, television houses, newspapers and magazines, betting houses, viewing centres, bars, souvenir manufacturers, travel agencies, tour organisers, breweries, soft drink manufacturers, all benefit massively from the success of the Super Eagles and lose immediate patronage following their defeat. It is as simple as that.

As a brand, the Super Eagles may be the strongest Nigerian brand in our entire history. No one should toy with the team and its fortune from match to match. To do so is to take lightly the lives, livelihood, business, emotions, passion and joy of an entire people.

That’s what Gernot did, in my humble opinion.

My first grouse is that he did not show any remorse, or understanding of his action when Nigeria met Madagascar. It means he had no appreciation of how important football is to the people, how winning is very important, and how, when the Eagles lose (which will inevitably happen from time to time), they must do so fighting till the very end.

My second grouse is that the NFF set a target of semi-finals for a foreign coach paid in tens of thousands of Dollars every month. Anybody coming to earn that kind of money, must justify it by doing what no Nigeria can do, or has done. So, I cannot understand how coming third in an African championship where we have arrived at that same destination 15 times before, with Nigerians in charge, should be a new target and be celebrated by the country.

Having said all of that, whether Gernot Rohr goes or stays is not mine to determine. Some people own that responsibility, and should face the music that comes with it. I cannot help them to take the decision, one way or the other.

I have made my own position clear though – Rohr has done well (and we thank him), but not well enough, in my humble reckoning, to remain a day longer than the end of AFCON 2019. He is not good enough for the Super Eagles of the immediate future and of our dreams.

From 2020, Nigeria must plant the seed of a future that includes aiming to become African Champions again in 2021, and a serious contender for the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2022. Rohr can’t take Nigeria to both places.


The imploding CAF and re-colonisation!

To say that all is not well with the Confederation of African Football, CAF, is to state the obvious. The house of African football is going through turbulences such as Africa has never experienced before.

With the high turnover of personnel in the body, it is clear that many in the leadership are not grounded in the politics and administration of the game. Even Ahmad Ahmad, in calling for external help to fix CAF by FIFA, is admitting as much.

It is unfortunate that Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick is caught in the crossfire, either as a victim or as a catalyst of the implosion of the continental body.

I cannot pretend to understand what is going on, and the immediate and unfortunate causes of the earth-shaking decisions by President Ahmad’s leadership that have turned CAF inside out, and brought it to the brink of collapse. As former disgraced FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, said, surrendering CAF’s sovereignty to FIFA is a return to the days of colonisation of Africa. That it is Ms. Fatma Samoura, an African woman, that is being deployed by FIFA to do the ‘dirty’ job, is just a pawn in this game that has not come to an end by any means.

Sepp’s words may be hauntingly true.

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  • Good one.With the injection of new players like fikayo tomori,Nathan delfouneso,Ramon Azeez,Ademola lookman and Junior lokosa they’ll go far.Semi finals good.First African team to achieve the feat and nations cup win.New coach like Michael Emenalo,ex-chelsea sporting director.

    • Jimmy Ball 5 years ago

      Some of these players you quoted… Are they tested?

    • Ndubuisi 5 years ago

      @Amos are u for real? Ademola look what? Pls where is he playing?

    • Greenturf 5 years ago

      And you think because Emenalo was involved with Chelsea so he is suddenly a tactician to take eagles to greater heights right.
      Emenalo is only a technical director and some of the players you mentioned like Tomori has made it clear he has no future with Nigeria.
      In my opinion I think we have a good technical team all we need is patient I believe this group shall win something soon.Changing coaches is never the solution because new coaches disrupts an existing system.They are beneficial when a team is poor and are in need of technical help but our aren’t.

  • Nathan Delfuneso ke?
    He has finished at 28 already.
    May be u should take ur time to watch him play before campaigning

  • I don’t think sacking Rohr is the answer to the current problems bedevilling Nigerian football. Odegbami seems to be fixated on that single loss to Madagascar, magnifying the economic doom it has brought to the country. Ii is as if a win would have wiped off our foreign debts, solved the drought problems in the north, cleaned up our polluted creeks, disarmed the Fulani herdsmen … you name it. What else does Odegbami stand to gain by this vicious campaign to unseat Rohr?  Underhand manoeuvres to introduce new players?

    Rohr may not be up to the scratch technically, but he has brought stability to our soccer. We are happy that players are now selected purely on merit. Will it be the same when Odegbami brings in his local coaches? Have we forgotten sharing of match bonuses?

    Football is a sort of gambling. As with gambling, you either lose or win with each episode of play. You can only strategise to increased the probability of winning or to decrease the probability of losing. Let’s abandon this repetitive campaign to sack Rohr and parley  on creative ways to elevate our football.

    I for one, support the proposal to send Rohr on a refresher course to Germany. Only, a local coach should go with him. 

  • very good @mathematical winger… computer brain odegbami has voice out let the nff follow his mathematical opinion…
    if rohr have the idea of how nigerians love this super eagle, he won’t gamble with it… how come he (rohr) didn’t know “football is the only source of our joy.”

    boyz go kidnap am 1day oo..

    amaju pinick has a president of caf, they will re-collonize us na.

  • Prince 5 years ago

    Well cut out great anb let’s rohn now supper eagles is the only that bind us as Nigerians should play with us and apologise for Madagascar lose. NFF should let him know

  • Dammy 5 years ago

    NFF will inject some good guys as well to complement the great ones we have.I think of the following:

    1. Dele Bashiru.
    2. Daniel Jinadu.
    3. Joe Aribo.
    4. Fanendo Adi.
    5. Fatai Alashe.
    6. Sebastian Osigwe.

    Google them or watch them from You tube.

  • Dr. Drey 5 years ago

    I’m sorry to say, but no disrespect, Uncle Segun is beginning to sound like a broken record. It will be better if he just laid this failed mission to rest and faced other issues. His fixation on the madagascar loss is becoming quite laughable by the the day.

    According to him ……”that action exerted a heavy toll on the country’s chances at the championship and on the Nigerian public. At the championship, the country paid a huge price by taking a more difficult route, with all the additional tension and pressure, to advance through the knock-out stages”…….IMHO, if not habouring parochial or clandestine sentiments…..taking the difficult route and still getting to where we got to is the more reason why we should give the team and its handlers thumbs up. If we had taken the ‘easier’ route, would it have stopped us from meeting either of Algeria, Senegal or Tunisia (the best teams on the continent at the moment) at the latter stages of the tournament…? I doubt it. Madagascar met DRC (R16) and Tunisia (Qfinals), same tunisia we defeated to the bronze medal. If we had won both games we would have still met Senegal in the semis….there is still no guarantees we would have just brushed Senegal away and made it to the finals to meet Algeria. In addition, a NIG vs CMR match would fetch double the income a NIG vs DRC match can ever fetch at any level, likewise a NIG vs SA will fetch tripple what a NIG vs TUN match would fetch….so whats the fuss about taking a so-called ‘harder’ route.

    If “..a whole industries and millions of Nigerians relied on the success of the Super Eagles for livelihood and even survival..” then taking the harder route, playing tougher opponents and higher stake matches was even better economically.

    To say… ‘A bad loss (like the madagascar loss which has become your alibi for this failed campaign against Rorh) brings (or brought) a halt to further income’…is very very very fallacious….I mean, how many companies requested a refund of their paid-for adverts after that loss…? How many viewing centres refunded their gate fees after the loss, how many newpaper outlets recorded poor sales the day after the loss….??? And even if all these happened (which im 99% sure never happened), does it mean all these industries didnt record anymore patronage afterwards, because i still remembered we played and won cameroun, SA (both matches recorded probably the largest viewing audience outside the country)and Tunisia. Going by your assertions that a bad loss brings a halt to further income, permit me to infere that zero income accrued to businesses from subsequent games after madagascar….another assertion which will be very very laughable.
    First, it was your British friend who gave you a call after your previous gaffe, 2nd it your own ex-teammate also did. Though i am not privy to what they said to you, but i sure can imagine they also questioned warped school of though and inordinate undermining of the effort of a coach who only sin so far is loosing his 3rd competitive game to an African opposition in 3 years.
    I asked a few question in my comment in your last column….on what basis should Rohr’s employers do away with him…? Underperformance…? Unprofessionalism….? Gross misconduct…? Insurbodination….? Not meeting set deliverables….? Dereliction of duty…? Corruption…?
    This was a team ‘top coaches’ where unwilling to touch even with a long pole, because of the precarious situation we were in as at the time he was engage….now he has returned us to the top echelon on the continent, all of a sudden, according to you “he is not good enough for the SE”.

    If your loss in income after the Madagascar game was the reason you wanted him out, im sure most business must still be smarting from the huge windfall they made from the 4 matches we played after that. That is enough reason why he will remain…!
    Otherwise if all you repeat time and again is about who and who lost what and what after the madagascar game, hence on that basis Rohr must be kick-out, then i’m sorry to say once again, you are sounding like a broken record. And my advise will be….. Just be patient, yorubas will say ‘a pe ko to je kii je ibaje’…Rohr will leave someday, infact he has only a year left on his contract, after he leaves, I hope we get another coach who will NEVER lose a match….at least that will mean you wouldn’t lose anymore income again…!

    • Danurch 5 years ago

      @Drey. Excellent response. Beautiful analyses. A handsome counter. Thanks Drey

  • Razak 5 years ago

    Nigeria Football needs German fighting mentality and German organization, it is unfortunate that the Super Eagle lost to Madagascar but look the positives beat Cameroon twice, once in the world cup qualifiers and in the Africa cup of nations and Nigeria beat South Africa. Right now Nigeria needs to qualify for the world cup and Africa Cup of nations in 2022 and 2021, these should be the objectives I mean no disrespect Odegbami Nigeria has never beaten Cameroon even when the Africa Cup of Nation was hosted in 2000, Rohr may not be a world class Coach but he selects players on merit and he would not do the unthinkable like losing to Italy in 1994 with eleven players against ten I sincerely ask of you Nigerians to give him the opportunity to take you to the next World Cup 2022, I am sure the players will deliver and in the moment of truth.

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