The German tactician believes that Nigeria’s best players ply their trade in Europe’s best league, but the nation’s top league will soon convince him otherwise, says a former Nigeria international
Former Lagos State FA Chairman, Waidi Akanni, says the reason Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr believes Nigeria’s finest stars are based abroad is because the German gaffer watches only the foreign leagues.
Akanni added that the quality of the local league players will surprise the former Bordeaux manager now that he has been compelled to also focus on the ongoing Nigeria Professional Football League.
The 2020-21 NPFL season has enjoyed a successful start with Rivers United setting the pace with four wins after five match days.
A few stars are making their impact felt already with veteran Kano Pillars forward Rabiu Ali competing for the limelight with Enugu Rangers’ Israel Abia, Lobi Stars’ Matthias Martins and Heartland’s Shadrach Oghali. All four attackers have found the back of the net three times each.
Rohr, compelled by the terms of his renewed contract, recently admitted that he has been watching a few Nigerian league matches via the internet.
And Akanni, a member of the 1985 bronze-winning Flying Eagles squad at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Russia, believes that the German manager will be shocked by the abundance of quality on the domestic scene.
“The issue here is, you have a foreign coach who watches only foreign leagues,” Akanni told the Vanguard.
“Who else does he select? It has to be foreign-based players. Until now that the coach has been compelled to watch the local league – I don’t know him that much – I believe his thinking will change pretty soon.
“He must have had a different perception of players from the domestic league.”
Nigeria have two Afcon-qualifying games against the Benin Republic and Lesotho scheduled for March.
And Akanni insists when Rohr incorporates home-based players in the Super Eagles, he will enjoy success like his predecessors.
“But he will soon find out that Nigerian players, once you bring them together, train them real hard, they will become better footballers and can play against any opposition.
“Coach Onighinde, Stephen Keshi, Shaibu Amodu did it, Siasia, Udemezue, Hamilton, I can keep reeling out names of those who have done it before, while we were playing. I think he(Rohr) has just been corrected. Let us give him another chance.”
Nigeria have one step in Cameroon 2022, with the three-time African champions topping Group L with eight points.