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Rohr claims Nigeria would have won Afcon & qualified for World Cup had he not been sacked

21:03 EAT 09/09/2022
Gernot Rohr - Nigeria
The Franco-German coach claimed he had good plans to change the Super Eagles’ fortunes but was not give the opportunity to execute them

Former Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has claimed that the Super Eagles would have won the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and qualified for the World Cup had he not been sacked.

Rohr was sacked in December 2021, just a month before the continental tournament started in Cameroon, having led Nigeria to qualify for the event, and Augustine Eguavoen was installed as his successor.

The Franco-German tactician had also led Nigeria to the World Cup playoffs but was not given the opportunity to complete the job in what Nigeria Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick described as "forestalling a disaster waiting to happen".

Nigeria were subsequently knocked out of the 2021 Afcon at the Round of 16 by Tunisia before missing out on a World Cup ticket following elimination by bitter rivals Ghana, who went through on away goals after a 1-1 aggregate score, leading to Eguavoen’s sacking.

Rohr, however, believes things would have been completely different had he been in charge.

“We were still celebrating when the news came that I have been sacked as coach,” said Rohr.

“They claimed it was an order from the top. I was in shock. This came at a time when I feel we were almost getting close to making our project for team work.

“The aim was winning the Afcon and we had plans for a team that would have won it and also qualified for the World Cup.

“There was a plan to integrate new players using the Afcon and all the pre-World Cup friendly games. I can’t think of any player in the team now that we didn’t have in our plan or gave a call-up. I’m sad for my players.”

Rohr was in charge of the Super Eagles for five-and-a-half years, having joined in July 2016 and led them to the 2018 World Cup in Russia before a third-place finish at the 2019 Afcon in Egypt, but his frosty relationship with the NFF led to his dismissal.

“It wasn’t an individual decision. It was a collective decision from the committee,” said Pinnick, while explaining why the coach was sacked.

“We didn’t want a disaster to happen before taking the decision. We did everything that we could, but one major factor was that discipline in the team is lost practically.”

With Rohr and his successor Eguavoen gone, the NFF handed the reins to Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro who started by losing to Ecuador and Mexico in friendly matches in June before beating Sierra Leone and Sao Tome and Principe in the 2023 Afcon qualifiers the same month.

Nigeria have set up friendly matches against Algeria in Oran and Portugal in Lisbon in September and November, respectively.