There is no doubt that every coach is judged by their achievements with the team they have been saddled to handle regardless of their performance on the field of play.
Can achievements be determined by the number of trophies won or by the number of times a team qualified for major tournaments?
The foregoing paints a picture of the present predicament of Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, who many consider as a coach that has underachieved with the array of players at his disposal. Rohr was appointed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in 2016 to revamp the Super Eagles and make them indomitable, most especially with the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers just around the corner.
Having been pitted in a Group of death that included Algeria, reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions, Cameroon and Zambia, most football pundits thought the team had a high mountain to climb to qualify for the Mundial.
However, the whole scenario changed as Rohr against all odds picked the sole ticket to the World Cup in dramatic fashion. The German tactician began his journey with a brilliant 2-1 away win against Zambia before thrashing Algeria 3-1 at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo.
Rohr survived his biggest test against arch-rivals, Cameroon with a 4-0 bashing of the Indomitable Lions at the same venue to edge the team closer to Russia. In the reverse fixture, Nigeria managed a 1-1 against Cameroon in Yaoundé before defeating Zambia 1-0 to qualify the team for the 2018 World Cup with a game to spare.
The senior national team also qualified for the 2019 AFCON in style with a dead rubber game to play against Seychelles which they won 3-1. The team though failed to progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup, but they won a bronze at the 2019 AFCON tournament.
Currently, Rohr is on the verge of also qualifying Nigeria to the 2022 AFCON, with the team top of Group L on Eight points ahead of Benin (seven points), Sierra Leone (three points and Lesotho (two points).
A victory for the team against Benin in Porto-Novo on March 22 could all but guarantee qualification for the three-time AFCON champions. That may also not be considered as an achievement by many Nigerians.
Although he is yet to win any silverware, Rohr has overseen the integration of talents such as Alex Iwobi, Maduka Okoye, Semi Ajayi, Tyronne Ebuehi, Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen, Kevin Akpoguma, Joe Aribo, to mention a few.
On a few occasions, he has come under severe criticism for his inability to make tactical substitutions when it matters most such as the game against Algeria in the 2019 AFCON semi-final clash and also against Argentina at the 2018 World Cup final group match. However, Rohr has moved on from such tactical errors.
It is noteworthy to recall that late Stephen Keshi won the Nations Cup with Nigeria in 2013, and also led Nigeria to the 2014 World Cup where they crashed out in the Round of 16.
But will it be right to judge Rohr based on his inability to win trophies for Nigeria? Or should the yardstick be based on his ability to qualify Nigeria for major tournaments?
Despite his achievements (in terms of results and qualifications), Rohr has still not convinced many Nigerians that he is the right man for the job, or at least, that he is a little better than a modern-day Gareth Southgate, where tactical and technical mediocrity spurned the dream of England’s Golden Generation to bring the World Cup home in 2018.
By Augustine Akhilomen