A former international goalkeeper, Dosu Joseph has charged Super Eagles Technical Adviser , Gernot Rohr to strive harder if he is to prove to everyone that he is technically superior to indigenous coaches who handled the team before him.
In this exclusive chat with Trust Sports, the former Julius Berger goalkeeper and member of the Atlanta 1996 Olympics gold-winning Dream Team I who called for a pension scheme for former internationals also spoke on the recent bribery allegations against some unidentified national team coaches.
The Nigeria Football Federation has just announced a contract renewal with Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, do you think he has done enough to earn his reward?
In my candid opinion, he has not performed more than the indigenous coaches. Going by records, he is yet to achieve what someone like late Stephen Keshi achieved with the Super Eagles. Keshi won the AFCON and took Super Eagles to the second round of the World Cup. Some of the indigenous coaches have won silver while some have also won bronze in the AFCON. So he has to do more to prove that he is better than the local coaches. His foreign compatriots like Clemens Westerhof and Bonfrere Jo won titles with the Super Eagles.
Would you say one of the conditions included in his new contract that he must reside in Nigeria within the duration of his contract is reasonable?
Nigerians were not privy to the first contract he signed with the Nigeria Football Federation. Even his second contract is somehow shrouded in secrecy but if he is asked to stay in Nigeria and monitor the domestic league, that is a welcome development. He has to give opportunities for some home-based players to play for the Super Eagles as it was the case in the days of Clemens Westerhof, Bonfrere Jo, Amodu Shuaibu, Samson Siasia, Sunday Oliseh and Late Stephen Keshi.
What’s your take on the argument that players in the NPFL are not good enough for the Super Eagles?
It is possible to find one or two quality players in the domestic league. It was the same scepticism that greeted Keshi’s decision to include home-based players in the AFCON squad but it was Sunday Mba a local player who emerged the hero of the 2013 Championship in South Africa. All the NPFL needs is quality sponsorship. The league should also be on TV so the people around the world can watch it week in week out.
According to you Rohr has not done anything more than the indigenous coaches but is there anything you feel he has done that is commendable?
Well, he has brought stability to the team which is what some of his predecessors also did. Asides that, his tenure has witnessed less agitation over match bonuses and allowances. He is also blending young and old players for a formidable Super Eagles. All some of us want is for him to do more to surpass the achievements of some of the indigenous coaches. If he wants to be counted among the Bonfrere Jos and Clemens Westerhofs, he should get us to at least the semi-final of the World Cup and also win an African title with the Super Eagles.
Are we not asking for too much from the Franco-German Coach?
The coach must realise in time that Nigerians are like Brazilians. We adore and cherish our football. You can see that anytime Nigeria is playing, people rush home from work to go and watch. That is how passionate we are about football. Football has since overtaken politics. While football unites us, politics divides us. Rohr must wake up to satisfy our hunger for titles.
A former Super Eagles coach once said Nigerian players are average in quality. Are our players now above average?
We have so many players who are above average. We have youngsters doing very well in European clubs. We have Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho in Leicester City, Alex Iwobi in Everton, Samuel Chukwueze in Villarreal, Victor Osimhen in Lille and a host of others. Some of them were scoring goals week in week out before the coronavirus pandemic. All we need is a sound coach to bring out the best in these talented players.
Some people think that the cadet national teams should be reserved for home-based players. Do you agree with this assertion?
It depends on the cadet national team one is talking about. The Youth U-23 which is like Super Eagles Feeder team needs our best players home and abroad. These are players who should be promoted to the Super Eagles if they excel at this level. The Youth U-20 should be for the local boys with a mixture of two or three foreign-based professionals who wish to play for Nigeria. The Youth U-17 is essentially a developmental team so it should be for academy players. It shouldn’t be reserved for home-based players leaving out those who were born in Europe but are within the age. If they are in football academies and have the talent, they should be given the opportunity.
Recently, some former Super Eagles players accused national team coaches of asking them for a bribe but failed to mention names. Is this good for the image of Nigerian football?
I think they waited too long. We need somebody to sacrifice himself and we would know that it happened. People say it happens but since I was playing till I retired, I never experienced anything like that. Chinedu Obasi came out after six years and he didn’t mention any name but the assistants of Keshi who are still alive have come out to say nothing like that happened. For me, these are mere speculations. The three or four of them should have mentioned the names of those who demanded bribe from them and we would have started from there. Let’s allow it to die at that level so we can concentrate on the future. The future of the Super Eagles is very bright.
Most ex-internationals complain they have been abandoned by football authorities. What is your advice for the present Super Eagles players?
My advice is that there is no pension after playing for the national team. It is the money you made while playing that will keep you going. Without injuries, football is played from ages 12 to 35. From 35 to 70 is what you earned while playing that you would use for the rest of your life. I believe I was lucky amid elders like Joe Erico, Ladi Babalola, Farawe, Abiodun Idowu, Sunday Oliseh and the rest. We were taught how to manage our resources. The present Eagles must learn to save for the rainy day.
How do you feel when some of your former colleagues complain that they have been abandoned?
I won’t blame those who ask for assistance. They are asking because of health failure. When there is health failure whatever you earn you will use it to be alive. And if you are not getting well, you would need assistance. I believe there should be a pension scheme for ex-internationals. It can assist those who are having health challenges.