To be brutally honest, it is difficult currently to see how the selection of players will not be influenced by powerful forces in Nigerian football – that is the sad reality. It is a disgusting practice that is rooted in culture that pervades entire Nigerian society. No sector is immuned and in the Super Eagles, no coach is immuned: man know man syndrome is (sadly) the order of the day. When the head of the NFF felt no shame in going on television to boast that he once forced Ahmed Musa on Gernot Rohr, then you appreciate how deep, endemic and widely acceptable the practice is. But even in this rotten environment, good and profitable outcomes are still achieved if the coach puts his career, his legacy and the interest of the nation at the forefront. Coach Gernot Rohr said he often received ‘advice’ on player selections but he made the final decisions. “Sometimes we can have ‘suggestions’from the officials and I listen them and we discuss it but the buck stops on my table,” said coach Rohr last year on AOI Football. “I’m a coach with a lot of experience with many years behind me, so I don’t have to take orders about players to bring into my team,” Rohr concluded. On the current list to face Ghana, Sylvanus Okpala, a former international who served as assistant Super Eagles coach under the late Stephen Keshi made the following statements on ESPN Nigeria: “I don’t know why Eguavoen included some of those players in the team. He knows better, he is the coach. Everything lies on his head. If you want to please some people and the result is not favourable, people will not remember those people who forced players on you, because you were supposed to be in charge.” Absolutely! Eguavoen is in charge. If what I gathered recently is anything to go by, then by jettisoning Onazi for Bonke (if Ndidi cannot make it), Eguavoen is showing that he is truly in charge. You can force a coach to take his player selections-donkeys to the river, once there, the coach decides which donkey drinks and which one goes away thirsty. Which might suggest why some dubious names that appeared in Rohr’s lists only spent all the time watching proceedings from the bench. Eguavoen has to know his tactics, formations, constellations and approach thereby ‘fielding’ players that fit his strategic thinking. Out of 23 players, only a handful of players can be imposed on him. He should ideally have a say in the make up of the bulk of his squad. The day he loses the powers to do that, then he becomes no more than a lame duck and there is but one cause of action open to him. “The day I can no longer make the ultimate decision on player selections and decisions, I will simply walk away from this job.” Said Gernot Rohr.
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