The Super Eagles start another journey this weekend in Uyo withthe new coach, Gernot Rohr, about to administer his first match as Technical Manager – whatever that means.
His employers, the Nigeria Football Federation will closely be monitoring what their new hire makes of the players that have been called to camp and what Nigerians think after the match on Saturday.
Though the match against Tanzania is a dead rubber,it is basically going to serve as a training camp ahead of the start for the 2018 World Cup qualifier, which begins against Zambia in October.
Without debating the fact whether the appointment is needful or not, Rohr is here and we have to put out the indices with which we will measure his performance as he seeks to perform a miracle of getting the eagles to Russia in 2018.
Ability to create harmony with the players
It is what SundayOlisehtried to achieve in his short reign was harmony within the squad – which is why we had those retirements. The Eagles are at present dysfunctional at best because most of the players are from diverse playing cultures. So the first thing Rohr must achieve in a short while would be to create harmony throughout the team. That was the major stumbling block for Clemens Westerhof, when he landed in Nigeria in 1989, and it took him five years to achieve that harmony. Rohr has less than 12 months!
Show decisiveness in choosing his first XI
Rohr cannot be seen to be weak in weeding out players not needed and supplanting them with others in his first XI on Saturday against Tanzania. Every manager has two or three playing patterns that they believe in,and for every position, have an understanding of the peculiar characteristic their chosen player should possess. He cannot teach these players how to play – all he has to do is recognise from the motley crew gathered in Uyo the players that would best interpret his philosophy when the 2018 World Cup qualifiers kick off next month.
Get positive feedback from the players
It would be a good sign if the training he offers the players, especially from those top five European leagues, is one that is well spoken of. He cannot make the mistake that England’s former manager, Roy Hodgson,made – an inability to mentally challenge the national team players – to the point where they were bored with his training methods. If he is not good enough, we will have the requisite feedback from the players.
Judge him against past managers
History is always available as a potent judge for the present and it will not be any different for Rohr. Most of the past coaches – at least Stephen Keshi and Oliseh– had friendly matches to start their reigns, but Rohr has a dead rubber – one that is even worse than a friendly. In those regimes, what we saw was a glimpse and all we can judge him with is a glimpse – nothing more.
Do not read anything into the result
I know this sounds absurd and awkward, but nothing can be read into the result against Tanzania – whether the Eagles win or lose 4-0; the fact is that Rohr had just four days with this players. He would not have been able to pass across his philosophy or mentality. All we have to judge him with would be his ability to inspire the players to play to standard even for a dead rubber and how factual the players see his plans. It is just too early to judge!
The real work starts in October away to Zambia so he must hit the ground running.