Gernot Rohr has just released a list of 25-man squad entirely made up of home-based or Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) players to prosecute the much talked about international friendly with Mexico billed for Los Angeles in the United States on July 4, 2021.
Critics say, it is not Rohr's list but the Nigerian Football Federation's...since Rohr doesn't know much of the NPFL or it's players. He hardly watches any NP.FL games and has told us why. It doesn't excite him because it is well organised and lacks the standard and quality players he wants in his team.
This writer thinks, whether the list is from the NFF or Rohr, it is still the same thing. Eat yam with oil and eat oil with yam are same
So how come Rohr suddenly developed this stunning love for home-based or NPFL players? How come he changed his mind or made this surprise u-turn? At what point did he fall in this hot love with the local.boys?
Someone argued that it was Anayo Iwuala's performance that changed the thinking of Rohr about and towards the local boys. He added that the Enyimba forward has shown great commitment, discipline and performance on the pitch since getting the opportunity to play with the team in the double fixture AFCON qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho.
After those games, offers poured in from Europe for Iwuala but he needed to make up his number of games in the national team to boost his profile in the transfer market hence, he had to remain with Enyimba Int'l FC at least for now.
The offers from Europe according a source could have made Rohr change his attitude towards the domestic league players. So why didn't he take much of them to Austria for the two-leg friendly against Indomitable Lions of Cameroun? No answer has been proved for this question.
This is why the recent invitation of 25 home-based players for Mexico friendly in America is viewed from different perspectives by keen followers, observers and diehard fans of NPFL.
Some say, Rohr simply wants to ridicule the boys and NPFL since he doesn't have confidence in them. More so, the boys have not been together before. They might even be played out of their desired or natural position just to mess them up and further justify why he (Rohr) doesn't like them.
Another school of thought disagrees with the above. It suggests that Rohr and his employers may have truly realised or seen the gains they stand to make by exposing these players. The Iwuala story may have been an eye opener to them.
But it is argued that this angle doesn't really hold water because some of the officials in the Football House are players representatives...and have been moving players abroad through their privately owned academies. Therefore, they may not need the Mexico friendly to take players abroad.
However, there is the third angle. It is a known fact that by July 4 most clubs in Europe would have commenced pre-season training and tours. This will certainly affect the foreign legion always paraded by Rohr. It is believed that the players may have excused themselves from the Mexico games to ensure they concentrate on their clubs pre-season training and games....and avoid the risk of losing their shirts or position in their teams.
Lastly, the Covid-19 Pandemic restrictions and measures could affect the foreign based players who most definitely will undergo tests and may even be quarantined if any of them test positive. They are presently holidaying and will face these tests once they resume. Should any be quarantined (God forbid), he may stay away from his club for minimum of two weeks which would have eaten deep into the period of pre-season. Such a player may not begin the 2021/22 season with his club.
Whatever the reason is for inviting an entire squad of 25 home-based players, we hope and pray the boys take full advantage of the opportunity and occasion to shine and prove critics especially their coach (Rohr) wrong. However, we must plead with Rohr to be fair and objective with the boys in the area of selection and playing them in their positions or roles of strength.
It is a taboo for anyone to say, assume, reason or suggest that the NPFL doesn't have the players or quality for any national team in the world. That's an insult to Nigeria and her over 200 million people. Let's keep exposing the players and create a competitive environment for them with their foreign based counterpart. Such healthy competition will bring out the best of our national team.
Building a national team around and for foreign based players alone is tantamount to destroying the domestic league and football in that country. That's what we have seen from Rohr in the last six years. Let's equally assume he has realised his mistakes and is probably making amends.