When President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick read the riot act to Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr – he must live in Nigeria, his salary will be paid in Naira and he must go round league venues and see how he can develop home grown players. And with Argentine tactician, Hector Cuper said to be lurking around to take over, many felt it was the end of the road for the Franco-German tactician as far as Nigeria’s top coaching job is concerned. But Rohr survived and he’s standing still
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) ended weeks of speculation about the future Super Eagles Manager Gernort Rohr after it announced that the Franco-German would remain as coach of the Nigerian men’s national team.
NFF President Amaju Pinnick in a series of tweets on Wednesday announced that both parties had finalised contractual negotiations resulting in the German tactician remaining with the Super Eagles.
Rohr’s contract was set to expire in June and media reports had suggested that England’s Harry Redknapp was one of the names lined up to replace him.
Redknapp was reported last week to be the favoured candidate of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, the government department that oversees the NFF, with pressure said to have been mounted on the federation to do away with Rohr and look elsewhere for a coach.
However, officials of the federation claim Redknapp was never considered as a replacement for Rohr, insisting the decision would have meant “returning the Eagles to the 1980s”.
Redknapp’s last job was at Birmingham City in 2017, where he was axed following six straight defeats in all competitions. His only international experience was managing Jordan in 2016.
However, two key figures in the Nigeria Football Federation have claimed that the reports were untrue as the NFF never thought of replacing Rohr.
“The news is all a hoax as some people are trying to be mischievous. Even if Nigeria ever thought of having a new coach, it would definitely not have been Redknapp. Hiring him would mean returning the Super Eagles to the 1980s, which is ridiculous.
“Our boys haven’t done badly under Gernot Rohr, so why should we dump him at this critical moment? We in the NFF believe in him and we will let him continue with his good work for the next few years,” the source told Goal.
This was echoed by another NFF chief, who added: “I don’t know about this. Everyone has been calling me about this and I am in my house under lockdown.
“The only thing that I know is that we just extended Gernot Rohr’s contract. We sent him an agreement and he will reply to the General Secretary. As far as I know, we have not discussed anything about another coach and we don’t know where this is coming from.”
“I’m happy to announce that the NFF and Coach Gernot Rohr have concluded all contractual discussions and he will stay on as coach of the Super Eagles. We have always had confidence in his abilities and we are confident that the national team can only go higher from here.”
However, Pinnick did not disclose the duration of the contract Rohr agreed to.
Pinnick said that the conclusion of the negotiations meant that the Super Eagles could now focus on developments on the pitch once football resumes.
“We can now focus on qualifying for the World Cup and winning the Nations Cup. In truth, these are sacrosanct and Coach Rohr is aware of these conditions. Like the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development has rightly noted; we are uncompromising in these goals.”
Pinnick maintained that he never at any point lost confidence in Rohr’s ability to improve the Super Eagles stating that he was “convinced our football would only get better from here on.”
It would be recalled that when calls for Rohr’s sack was heightened after what was believed to be a lacklustre performance by the Super Eagles at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, Pinnick reiterated his trust in the German.
“He will remain in the job. I have complete confidence in him,” the NFF president assured in spite of renewed calls for Rohr’s sack following the semi-final defeat to Algeria at the 2019 AFCON.
“There are some people that have been calling on me and the federation to sack Gernot. But I am not going to do that. In fact, Gernot is going on a refresher training period with Bayern Munich after the Nations Cup. We have a long-term plan with him.
“We have had rocky and difficult moments in our relationship, but this is normal in any relationship between two people. He is a good coach and we want him to remain with us. That said, we will work together on what needs to be improved upon,” Pinnick had assured then.
Rohr was offered a new contract at the start of last month but there were hesitations over an agreement due to new clauses set by the NFF.
The 66-year-old has been in charge of the Super Eagles since 2016 overseeing their qualification for the 2018 World Cup and a third-placed finish at AFCON 2019.
Rohr said he never had any problems with those conditions.
“I never talk about my contract in public, as you know,” Rohr told ESPN.
“But I heard like everybody what was said by President Amaju Pinnick, that I have to accept to be paid in naira, and I have to be resident in Nigeria. I agree to these two things, and even I agree to have a lower salary.
“I am not doing my job for money. I am doing my job because I like it. Because we have built a team like you know, and money is not the most important. But I also have to look after my assistants.
“I accept because I think that my mission in Nigeria is not finished yet, and I know very well my players. I know very well the officials. We are now just like a family, and I think it is good to continue especially in this period now where it is difficult to change, to travel, to see new people.”
Rohr would not say how much of a cut he is taking from his $US55,000 salary but he made it clear that his three assistants were also paid from his wages and not by the NFF.
“For me it is a little bit special because, as you know, with my salary, we are four people. It is not only me. I have my three assistants, Tunde Adelakun, Nabil Trabelsi and also Jean Luc Royer. I can speak in the name of my assistants because we are in touch all the time.
“Like I told you, I don’t speak in public about it. I never spoke about my salary, I only saw that it has been published. But it’s for four people and not only for me. A lot of people don’t know that.
“I want to work free in all my responsibilities. Independence as coach who is responsible for results. It is always good to be sure you can do a work with confidence and be free in the choice of good players.”
Rohr had overseen a total of 40 matches with the Super Eagles, winning 23, losing nine and drawing eight over four years since taking charge of his first game against Tanzania on September 3, 2016.
The Super Eagles have also scored 61 goals and conceded 34 in his time in charge.