As the 2021 African Cup of Nations (to be played in January in 2022), draws closer – 30 days to go, ABZ looks at the decisions that could help Coach Gernot Rohr succeed in Cameroon.
Here are a few things I think Rohr needs to improve on if he is to get the best out of his team, and possibly win the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and also lead the Super Eagles of Nigeria to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Pick the best players for the team on form and merit, not favouritism. Some players like Samuel Kalu should not be anywhere near the team. He is bad for both club and country. Ahmed Musa’s time in the team is over. His last real impact on the team was in 2018. There was no logical reason for bringing back Odion Jude Ighalo to the team. Some players like Emmanuel Dennis Bonaventure, Taiwo Awoniyi, Chidere Ejuke are doing very well for their club sides, they should get an equal opportunity as others.
Be proactive while making in-game decisions. I believe anybody can set up a team anyhow, anybody can set up a starting xi, but what separates the best from the rest is the decisions they make in-game. From changing approach to switching tactics to substitutions. Game management is the major thing that cost us at the last World Cup and AFCON. Against Algeria, we had 2 substitutions left and a goal kick in the 92nd minute, Rohr kept the subs. Against Argentina, the same thing, he brought on 2 players after we conceded the knockout blow. He should be proactive, and not reactive.
We need more than three midfielders in the team. It has become a tradition for Gernot Rohr to invite just three natural midfielders for every tournament or qualifier. His midfield trio is always Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, and Joe Aribo, since Etebo got injured, he brought Frank Onyeka. When Ndidi was unavailable, he brought Innocent Bonke and stopped calling him since Wilfred got back. Rohr’s team always have nine attackers and nine defenders – it’s football, and not war.
Use friendly matches to test fringe players. The Super Eagles played a few friendlies, and Rohr used almost the same sets of players for all the friendly matches. There were five goalkeepers in camp, and only Maduka Okoye was in goal for all the matches. We know the likes of Ndidi and Victor Osimhen will start any day anytime, they are not needed in most of those friendly matches, test your “unknown” players.
Use the players in their best positions. The technical adviser is fond of using players in positions that are not theirs or not used to. For example, Kevin Akpoguma’s best position is the left side of a back three, but Rohr deployed him as a right-back, and it affected his game. Paul Onuachu, who scores lots of games for his club side Genk, is asked to fit into the team’s style. We need to get the best out of our players.
If the Franco-German coach should do these basic things, Nigeria stand a chance of doing well at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and even end up winning the showpiece.