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While Nigeria missed out in the qualification of two consecutive Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 and 2017, Gernot Rohr restored the country’s pride by leading the Super Eagles to the 2018 World Cup. He tells, L’Equipe of his happiness and his ambitions.

   A few days after qualifying Nigeria for the 2018 World Cup, Gernot Rohr has still not fallen from his cloud. From Bordeaux, where he is resting before approaching the next assignment, the Super Eagles coach explains how he has been able to achieve results in Nigeria after difficult years.

 Gernot Rohr (64) told L’Equipe that he will see his contract through to July 31, 2018. He added that “the president has already announced to me that it will be extended for two years, before the World cup”. Sports Village Square attempts to translate the interview conducted in French into passable English.


  •  How do you feel about qualifying for the World Cup soon, even with the qualifying series still on?

“It gives me a lot of joy and satisfaction of course. It’s a new challenge, a new adventure that’s coming. Participating in the most important tournament in the world, with the best teams, is something every player and coach dreams about.

“To live that is already an end, even if it does not mean that we will reach the end. It’s a dedication for me who has been leading national teams for many years. I had already done some interesting things, African Cups for example, but there, really, it’s a plus.

  • How did you manage this time to cross qualifications with Nigeria?

“It’s thanks to the quality of the players. There are some exceptional players. We found the right cocktail, the good mix between youth and experience.

”The team evolved about 15 months ago.  We decided to integrate a lot of young people. Players like Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City) and others who are already in big clubs. With these new and some old, we built a team that is solid, which was very effective during the playoffs.

  • Are you surprised to be first out as easily (no defeat in five games) from a very high profile group with Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia?

“We had programmed things, even if they were mainly wishes. We knew that it would be difficult, with Algeria, which was then the best African team when the World Cup qualifying series began. Cameroon, which won the last Africa Cup of Nations and Zambia, which against all odds, proved to be the most competitive opponent. Very tough.

“Fortunately, we started well, not to have to go to Algeria in the last match, with the obligation to make a result.

  • The players seem to have adhered to your instructions and your methods…

“Yes I think. Our course attests. The team has evolved well, despite some adjustments, injuries, including the goalkeeping position, since it is the fourth (Ikechukwu Ezenwa) who became titular.

“It was quite exceptional. We worked a lot with local players. It was not a long calm river. It had to be vigilant, find solutions to difficult situations and last minute packages.

  • Under what conditions do you work in Abuja? How do the media in particular behave with you?

“I’m the breeder! I have full powers. As I won right away, my hands were free. But the media pressure is immense there, the press is omnipresent. At first, I was careful not to fall in the cracks of the media. After, I had no problem.

  • What are the ambitions of the Super Eagles in Russia?

“They have qualified from the group stage in the past and getting to the round of 16, especially in 2014 when they faced the French team (0-2 defeat.

“We will try to do as well. Unfortunately, here, the ambitions are a little more excessive: the team must get to at least the semi finals.

“We have the ambition of the leaders to manage, even if I get along very well with the president (Amaju Pinnick), who came to get me. There are many people at the Federation (NFF). As in all African countries, it’s never easy. But for now, it’s going very well.

  • …Because you seem to be perceived as the savior in Nigeria.

“I arrived at a time when everyone was wondering how to get out of the shadows, after two consecutive non-participations in the Africa Cup of Nations. They were really at the bottom of the hole.

“We could only go back up. I do not know if I’m considered the saviour, but as a coach who had the chance to qualify for the World Cup and did what it took to get there. ”



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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International Football

Grudgingly, Eto’o accepts new Cameroon coach Brys, but fails to attend ceremony



Cameroon’s new coach Marc Brys penned a contract on Monday but the Belgian’s appointment by the government remains contentious as the football federation did not attend the signing ceremony.

Brys has been handed a 2-1/2-year contract by Cameroon’s sports ministry but the federation (FECAFOOT) was conspicuous by its absence at the event in Yaounde.

Last week, FECAFOOT criticised the unilateral decision of sports minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombito to appoint the 61-year-old Brys, who has no prior experience as a national team coach and has not previously worked on the African continent.

FECAFOOT president Samuel Eto’o issued a statement on Monday, excusing himself from the unveiling event.

“We thank you for inviting us to the ceremony. Following this, we inform you of the fact that we received the letter two hours before the said ceremony,” wrote Eto’o.


“Unfortunately, we are busy organising the funeral of our late Dad, and for this reason we will not be able to attend presence at the ceremony.”

His father’s funeral is to be held at the weekend.

Eto’o balked at Brys’ appointment and is now in a deepening standoff with the minister.

In Cameroon, the government has long paid the salary of the national team coach and therefore held powerful sway over FECAFOOT’s affairs, even if such state interference is frowned upon by world football’s governing body FIFA.

Any heightened dispute risks a potential ban from international competition for Cameroon, one of the heavyweights of African football.


FECAFOOT held an emergency meeting on Saturday and asked Eto’o to propose an alternative coach for the national team.

Earlier on the weekend, the minister had defended the appointment, saying he had acted in accordance with national and international regulations.

In a letter to FECAFOOT, Kombi said his ministry’s appointment of coaching staff “in no way affects the autonomy of FECAFOOT and does not violate any of the ‘supranational regulations”.

He said FECAFOOT had suggested three candidates to the ministry but their salary demands ranged between 1.5 million euros and 2.5 million euros ($1.63 million and $2.71 million) per year.

“These are excessive amounts never paid to any coach in the history of the Indomitable Lions,” Kombi said.



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International Football

Cameroon FA to propose national coach after emergency meeting –



BREAKING! Turmoil In Cameroon Federation Over Naming Of New National Coach Brys -

Cameroon’s football federation (FECAFOOT) held an emergency meeting on Saturday and asked its president to propose an alternative coach for the national team, deepening a standoff with the sports ministry.

FECAFOOT on Wednesday accused the ministry of unilaterally appointing Belgian Marc Brys as coach and other staff to manage the Indomitable Lions, who are five-times African champions.

The dispute risks a potential ban from international competition as world soccer’s governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations.

In a statement, FECAFOOT said its emergency committee had met on Saturday and unanimously confirmed that the federation had not been involved in the appointments in alleged contravention of regulations.

As a result, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours.


Responding to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the ministry said the result of the FECAFOOT meeting was “an appeal. It is not yet a decision.”

On Friday, Sports Minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombi wrote to FECAFOOT to defend the coaching appointments, which he said were in accordance with national and international rules.

In a letter seen by Reuters, Kombi said the ministry’s move “in no way affects the autonomy of FECAFOOT and does not violate any of the ‘supranational regulations’.”

A spokesperson for the ministry confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

Kombi’s letter also said the salaries requested by three candidates earlier proposed by the federation for the position of coach ranged between 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) and 2.5 million euros per year.


“These are excessive amounts never paid to any coach in the history of the Indomitable Lions,” Kombi said.

FECAFOOT did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.





BREAKING! Turmoil in Cameroon federation over naming of new national coach Brys.

Soccer Cameroon appoint Brys as new head coach


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International Football

National team and club-mate Owolabi commiserates with grief-stricken Odegbami –



National team and club-mate Owolabi commiserates with grief-stricken Odegbami -

Powerful left-wing back in his playing days, Felix Owolabi has expressed great grief over the loss of a son of former teammate, Segun Odegbami.

Both Felix Owolabi and Odegbami share common traits as the earliest tertiary institution footballers featuring for clubs and the national team.

While Odegbami was a mechanical engineering student at The Ibadan Polytechnic, Owolabi was an undergraduate at the University of Lagos.

Both were players of the then rampaging IICC Shooting Stars and the Africa Cup of Nations winning team of 1980. The crucial goals that won the cup for Nigeria were scored by the duo.

While Owolabi’s goal against Morocco sent Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations final match for the first time, Odegbami’s two goals in the final against Algeria put a stamp of definity to Nigeria’s victory before another club-mate Muda Lawal put in the third.


“We have come a long way”, remarked Owolabi in a message to the Sports Village Square  Thursday morning.

“I have just arrived from Morocco on a national assignment trying to adjust and deal with the extreme and gruelling hot weather here in Nigeria when I got the sad news of the sudden death of the son of my dear brother and senior colleague Dr Olusegun Odegbami.


“Hearing the death of Oluwagbeminiyi Omo Odegbami,  I paused for a moment and did not know what to say.

“All the media both print and electronics carried it as a breaking news.


“And that was when it dawned on me that I had to call ‘Big Sheg’ as he is fondly called by me.

“His authoritative confirmation about it dealt a blow on me and put me total darkness.What would have happened to this our vibrant and such an enterprising Oluwagbeminiyi?

“Why would death be so so wicked to suddenly take this gentleman away from us without notice. Going on a journey that he will need not to look at anybody, an eternal journey till Christ come.

“My heart and  that of my entire family are with you and the rest of the family”, remarked Owolabi.

“It is well. I pray that God grant him eternal rest. I pray also that the almighty God grant you the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. Today the death of Oluwagbeminiyi has made me to believe and conclude that death is real and it is universal





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