After a long-drawn negotiation, political manoeuvrings and public fallouts, Franco-German Gernot Rohr and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have agreed on a new contract to allow the coach to continue with the Super Eagles.
In the end, both parties have put their grievances aside to continue a working relationship that has become so complicated.
It wasn’t like this in the beginning. It now seems a distant memory when Rohr and the NFF had a fantastic working relationship without any squabble.
The NFF had to stand firmly behind the Franco-German earlier on and the coach needed it. With a less than stellar coaching career, Rohr was not well welcomed by critics when he was first hired but the NFF stood by the decision. That decision has been rewarded with the stability and consistency the Franco-German has brought to the Super Eagles.
Under Rohr, the Super Eagles navigated a difficult group to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with ease. Nigeria’s senior national team also made a return to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after a four-year absence.
Even in the thick of intense criticism following Nigeria’s group-stage exit at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the NFF continued to back Rohr, But the relationship soon soured and the discordance followed.
With Rohr also facing backlash over Super Eagles performance or lack of at AFCON 2019, he lost his leverage in the negotiations for a new contract and the NFF took advantage.
They first queried the Super Eagles coach for publicly disclosing details of his contract in a November 2019 interview and then went on to insert some clauses in their proposed contract which stipulate that the coach must agree to live in Nigeria, earn in Naira and must agree to pay attention to the local leagues.
There was also the case of blatant disrespect on the part of the NFF when they appointed former Super Eagles captain Joseph Yobo as Rohr’s assistant without consulting with the coach.
These were enough reasons for Rohr to have walked away. Leave on a high after the good work he has done with the Super Eagles and use that fanfare to get a good paycheck elsewhere. Even Rohr admitted that the terms in his contract-including a pay cut-were not favourable to him, yet he still accepted them with the vision of continuing with his Super Eagles project. In doing that, he sold himself short and has gotten himself into a vulnerable position with the NFF.
Despite claims of getting several offers, Rohr’s demeanour suggests otherwise hence the decision to stay on as someone who was left with only one option.
With him boxed in the corner by the NFF, Rohr will see the freedom which he enjoyed in his first two years as Super Eagles coach in short supply.
All these plays into the hands of the NFF, the clear winners from this situation and having the federation call all the shorts has never been a good indication for any Super Eagles coach.
In the end, all the parties involved got what they wanted, Gernot Rohr, a new contract, the NFF a coach within their control and the Super Eagles, a manager who has stayed on for much-needed stability.
But Rohr is the only loser.