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INTERVIEW: Rohr not qualified to be Eagles coach, says Akpoborie

INTERVIEW: Rohr not qualified to be Eagles coach, says Akpoborie
February 22
18:02 2021

Jonathan Akpoborie, former Super Eagles forward, says Gernot Rohr is not qualified to be the senior national team handler.

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In a chat with TheCable, the 52-year-old former Golden Eaglet player talked about the caliber of players invited to the Super Eagles, the decline in the country’s football, and what can be done to improve the domestic league, among others.

He also explained what is responsible for the stagnancy of Nigerian players as well as how local coaches can improve themselves.

The decline in Nigeria football and stagnancy of players!

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When we were playing and we play countries like Burundi, Burkina Faso and the likes, we always beat them with wide margins. But now we can not beat them anymore like that. Maybe we will beat them 1-0 or struggle to play 1-1 with them. Are they improving? Yes! Are we improving? No! We are stagnant and we have been stagnant for a very long time and that is the problem.

So, if we are not developing our players, why won’t we bring the ones that are better. It is a national team. Not a club side. Are the players brought to the national team less Nigerian than those that were born here in the country? They are also Nigerians and if they are better, why will u not use them? Because the professional national team is supposed to comprise our best players. So, if they are our best players, why won’t you invite them? But my problem is that they do not even go and bring the best players from Europe for us.

Do we have the best players on the national team?

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They do not invite the best players, that is the problem we are facing in Nigeria. If the coach [Gernot Rohr] should search himself very well, I don’t think he brings the best players to play for the country. And that’s the biggest problem we have. I am in Europe, nobody should deceive anybody. I watch football in Europe almost every week from U-10 all through the U-23s.

Nigeria league not entertaining to watch, says Akpoborie

Jonathan Akpoborie

They have a lot of Nigerians who are coming up and playing well. There’s a boy who plays for the Wolfsburg junior team and Germany’s U-17. This boy is very good.

It is when he starts playing for the senior team that we will start looking for him to come and play for Nigeria. They just see a player out of the blues and say ‘come and play for us’.

Are the scouts working?

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There’s work to be done. But the scouting they tell people is just the word but I don’t see the work. Because if you go and see scout where they work in Europe, you will see the difference. Not the one that one agent will call and say there’s a player somewhere and they will go and see that player alone. Meanwhile, you all have another Nigerian who is far better but he doesn’t have such an agent. Have you seen Junior Ajayi play? Have we asked ourselves why he has not played for Nigeria? I have not seen him play live but I have only seen his video and I have been asking the question of why hasn’t he played for the country?

Government involvement in football

Until the government stops interfering in football matters, we will continue to be stagnant and continue to drag. Until the government takes their hands off football, we will continue to go down and down because of the stupid consequences that come with the government.

What do you think about the NPFL?

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We will talk and talk about our league. What is in our league today? You are forcing people to come and watch the Nigerian league. What is there in the Nigerian league to come and watch? Is it entertaining? It is not. I have seen football being played in Nigeria and I have seen the one played in South Africa. The South Africans are not as talented as our Nigerians. But their league is well organised and they play well organised football. We don’t in Nigeria. We don’t have the coaches. Some people tell you that our coaches are good enough but they are not good enough. Let’s speak the truth. We have some, they are talented but today in football just as talent is not good enough for you to be a player, talent alone is not good enough for you to be a coach.

Coaches and education

There are so many things involved in coaching and lots of our coaches don’t have it. They don’t. They have to go and learn and it’s not as if they cannot. They should sponsor themselves to go and learn. After learning, they should always go for yearly refresher courses. Once you pass your coaching course and have your license, they will keep updating you.

NFF responsibilities

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That’s why I keep saying our FA is responsible. The president of the NFF thinks maybe he is only responsible for the national teams alone. They are the ones that gave the responsibilities to those running our leagues. If they are not performing well, they are responsible. If the league is bad, they are responsible. Because they gave them the opportunity to run the league for us.

When you look at the policies all these our administrators keep churning out, it makes me wonder and ask; if they think they are talking to children who do not understand anything.

How to make the Nigerian league better

Look at those days, during Principal Cup that we used to play then. Lots of schools do participate. Then we were developing players but since the tournament died, you now see people saying they are 17 but meanwhile they are 30. So, it goes down way deeper than we all think. We keep blaming the government saying they are the one killing our football. We have over 200 million citizens in this country. If we organize our league very well and we do the right things to entice people to watch our league, at least minimum of a 100 million will follow it. It is not rocket science. It can be done. It’s been done elsewhere and we can do it too. I think if they really want to do it, they would have done it for a very long time by now. Look at the music industry, is it attached to the government? It is not. It is easier because it is an individual performer. But in football, we have several people involved. There are different teams that are supposed to be run by mostly private entities in the country. But unfortunately, the state government has taken over everything. Why? When we were playing, we have the Abiola Babes, Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Leventis United, Julius Berger, and the likes back then. That is what we need in Nigeria. We have more companies that are even bigger now than we used to have then. Why can’t the government say these foreign companies coming to establish in the country, you must contribute to sports.

Gernot Rohr

Even the coach that we have is not on the A or B or C list in Europe. So, what do you expect him to go and bring for us? And when you sign a contract with our national team coach and you say some people will vet the players that he is inviting. I just laugh. It is annoying. If you tell any coach in Europe that you will vet the list of players he will be inviting, he will resign immediately. They might as well just write their own list and give it to the man that he should invite.

Where is Nigeria with her dominance at the youth level?

We have played in how many World Cups? How many World Cups have won at the U-17 level. Five! We should be among the best. We should be the pioneers. We should be at the forefront but unfortunately, we are not. They should be asking Amaju Pinnick that question. Why is that so?

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