On the defensive: Analyzing Gernot Rohr's Super Eagles

It’s been a little over five years since Gernot Rohr took over as manager of Nigeria's national team. In that span, his charges have played 62 matches, ample time to get an idea of how the 68-year-old German is attempting to mold the Super Eagles in his image. He has won 34 games and lost 13. The rest ended in draws.

Gernot Rohr

It is important to understand Rohr's history when attempting to decipher his plans for Nigeria.

Let's face it, his winning percentage and trophy cabinet are not impressive. His once-promising career seemed destined for stardom before quickly heading downhill with poor results, multiple resignations and sackings.

That said, there was one aspect of his teams that remained relatively consistent; stout defense. And though the Nigeria Football Federation probably could have hired a more promising manager if it wanted to pay for one, Rohr's defensive record was a small glimmer of hope for a team that seemed to make at least one embarrassingly amateurish mistake at the back every match, for far too long.

The deficiencies are a somewhat ironic given that defense was once the backbone of the national team, particularly under the tutelage of the late Stephen Keshi. The Super Eagles boasted defenders like Joseph Yobo, Kenneth Omeruo, Godfrey Oboabona, Azubuike Egwuekwe and Efe Ambrose, were big, physical, reliable and relentless.

And if you think defense is just one aspect of football commensurate in value to all others, think again.

Nigeria's defense is beginning to show a slow but steady improvement under Rohr. He doesn't offer many ideas in attack,

The Franco-German isn't necessarily reinventing the wheel or incorporating anything revolutionary. He is, however, bringing Super Eagles' defense into the 21st century by employing basic tenants found within any successful four-man backline.

His defensive scheme, at least to this point, has been predominately zone-based. With each player executing properly, i.e. covering the distance within their allotted.

Under Rohr, a former center back himself, Super Eagles' defense consistently has numbers in position to defend.

So, what's the next phase in the evolution of Nigeria's defense, which it is hoping becomes a stingy, consistent, and systematic staple of the team?

Along with perfecting principles already installed and incorporating new ones such as the zone trap, Nigeria's next step to ensure continued improvement, development, and consistency on defense is building depth.

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Ademetan Abayomi has always dreamt of being a sports journalist. His journey began 11 years ago when he created my first sports news page on Facebook, called "Futball Galore" and from there on his passion for sports journalism grew stronger. Now, he is a Sports News Reporter and Feature Writer where he strives to add value and learn as much as he can.

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