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OLATOYE OLAWALE


Shortly after Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, his agents flew a kite that the Franco-German was wanted by six countries. Two in Africa, two in Asia and two in Europe. They however didn’t disclose the countries.

Obviously the kite was flown to put his employers (the NFF) on the edge. The plot was to put the NFF under pressure and enforce a new improved contract. A bumper package contract. They used a section of the media to cajole unsuspected members of the football fraternity to press for their demand.

We were bamboozled and harassed by the noise from the trumpets of his agents reminding us that Gernot Rohr qualified us for the World Cup in Russia and AFCON in Egypt. They sounded like no coach had ever achieved such feat.

They forgot that a certain Stephen Okechukwu Keshi who was paid lesser than Rohr and given a welfare package lower than Rohr’s had won AFCON in South Africa 2013, qualified and featured in Brazil 2014 World Cup yet had a better outing compared to the record of Rohr in Russia.

Then followed the noise about a new contract. This noise pushed or forced Rohr to raise his shoulders before and above his employers. He challenged them on issues he made public which they frowned against. He felt he had arrived with an untouchable robe. He became a rough driver threatening his employers with a naughty and knotty outrageous sack clause.

His employers felt that push had come to shove. They felt belittled and undermined by the actions of their employee. They needed to act fast. They decided to cut him to size. They patiently waited for his existing contract to elapse before tactically or technically excusing him, by asking him to look elsewhere possibly towards the direction of the six countries that needed the “beautiful bride”.

By the time the NFF was done with him, Rohr’s voice had mellowed. He no longer sang like a nightingale before the media. He no longer walked shoulder high. He no longer reminded his employers that he was travelling to Paris, Munich, London or Rome to relax or scout for players.

He was handed a new contract proposal. The contract stated that he will take a pay cut. He agreed. The contract stated that he would be paid in naira and no longer in dollars. He nodded.

The contract stated that he would henceforth invite and include home-based (domestic league) players in his plans and programmes. He swallowed without blinking. The contract stated that he would have to live in Nigeria and no longer operate from Germany, France or England. He accepted.



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In fact, there was nothing in the contract that Rohr kicked against. The hunter thus became the hunted. Ridiculously the statement below was allegedly credited to him.

" 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’ve built a team and money is not the most important.”

" 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.”

Rohr suddenly thinks Nigeria. He loves to be a Nigerian. He loves our food, water, night clubs and probably babes. Rohr surprisingly turns to Clemens Westerhof overnight. Westerhorf was and remains the only foreign coach that wanted to be a Nigerian. I got worried about this new found love or romance of Rohr towards Nigeria.

I therefore ask, why is Rohr this desperate? Why did he accept all these conditions? Are his six suitors no longer interested in “the best coach Super Eagles ever had”? Can’t he call the bluff of the NFF anymore and take a walk? Hasn’t he achieved enough with the Super Eagles to attract better contracts than the “demeaning” one he is presently presented with by the NFF? Should a coach who “did so well” at the World Cup in Russia take a pay slash and get paid in local currency yet live in the country? Oh, so Rohr can live in Nigeria now?

Nigerians and football stakeholders now know better the kind and quality of coach handling the Super Eagles. We now understand that it is all about hype. It is all about the noise or sound of oil and onion on and from the frying pan.

I wish the NFF, Super Eagles and Rohr the very best in their renewed romance. But I am concerned about the desperation of a foreign coach to accept our job with his pay coming in naira! A new dawn is here for foreign coaches in Africa!


Written By: Desmond Ekwueme

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