Super Eagles in Egypt at 2019 AFCON. Photo/Twitter/nff
Former Nigeria international, Friday Ekpo believes that Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr’s inability to pick and nurture players in the Nigerian league for the national team is reflecting on the country’s squad at the on-going African Nations Cup in Egypt.
According to Ekpo, Rohr’s job as the coach of Nigeria’s senior national team is to develop the country’s football, using the domestic players as the foundation to build a credible team. But he says that Rohr, who comes into the country two weeks to major championships and invite only foreign-based players for matches, is only selecting players but doesn’t focus on his major role of discovering good domestic players and giving them the right tactical training to be world beaters.
The former Shell of Gabon midfielder wondered how Nigeria would survive if the home grown players were not tutored and exposed to international championships from time to time.
Reflecting on his days as a footballer, Ekpo noted that former Super eagles’ coach, Clemens Westerhof gave so many home-based players the chance to play in the national team, adding that the foreign-based players only came to fight for shirts without thinking that the coach would give them automatic place in the team.
Ekpo also posited that the Super Eagles failed to beat Madagascar because the players underestimated them, and also due to the coach’s inability to read the game and deploy the right players.
“The continuous overreliance on overseas-based players, neglecting the domestic players is playing out in the Super Eagles team. Most of the players in the present Super Eagles don’t play for top clubs in Europe week in week out. That is why the coach finds it difficult to know the best player that fits a particular position; he keeps changing and sticking to one formation.
“To me, Rohr does not coach Super Eagles, he only selects players for games. A coach that comes into the country a few weeks to a match and invites only foreign-based players for national assignments only selects players. He is not coaching the team.
“His job as the technical adviser of the Super Eagles is to stay in the country, watch the Nigerian league, pick the best players he feels that can deliver and nurture and expose them to the big stage.
“This is what is called coaching. This was how coach Westerhof and Jo Bonfrere were able to build a formidable squad.
“They were not only focused on selecting overseas-based players,” he said.