The news that one time skipper of the Eagles, Rivers State born Joseph Yobo was appointed and assistant coach to Gernot Rohr by the NFF was one that instantly greeted me with shock, not positively to say the least. To be fair, erstwhile assistant coach Imama Amapakabo, was not tactically sound even though he had won the Nigerian Premier League with Rangers FC of Enugu in 2016, his stint with the National U-23 side was disastrous.
While Coach Imama was done away with, what was the basis for appointing Yobo, what process did the NFF put in place to ensure transparency, was there any call for applications, how did Yobo emerge, whose interest is Yobo representing? There are many questions that are begging for answers.
Take nothing away from Yobo, a complete gentleman and accomplished footballer in his own right, skippered the Eagles to AFCON victory in 2013, record appearance holder in the history of Eagles, he is among the very few to have played maximum minutes in a Premier League season (2006/2007), first African to Captain Everton, one-time record appearance holder for an overseas player while playing for Everton, the list of his accomplishments on the pitch goes on. However, the business on the bench is a different ball game entirely, being a good footballer does not validate the thesis that one would make a good coach/manager, Diego Maradona and Thiery Henry are prime examples. What then was the basis for his appointment?
It is rumoured that he has no badges and in the business of management, you are not brought out of blue, you have to earn your stripes and it is on record that he has not held any managerial position previously.
Personally, I feel that the NFF appointed Yobo, to checkmate Gernot Rohr. While it has been muted in some quarters, that the romance between the German-born tactician and his paymasters have gone sour and they were inserting strenuous clauses into his contract in a bid to frustrate him. I recall watching the medal presentation ceremony after the third place match in the recently concluded AFCON and the NFF chair did not shake the outstretched hand of Rohr, my immediate thought was that of a strained relationship.
I feel this is one of such “clauses” that was muted, to clip his wings, undermine his leadership and disrupt the harmony in this vibrant Super Eagles set up because you cannot have two “captains” in a ship. If the NFF really wanted to help Yobo in a coaching capacity, there is nothing wrong in appointing him as head coach of any of the junior teams, the U-17, U-20 or U-23.
I am not a big fan of the current coach, but he has done well since his arrival, even though he can do well in boosting his tactical nous, he has drastically reduced the average age of the Eagles and he has assembled a young team that can serve us for at least the next 5-6 years. Yobo’s appointment puts a question mark over the future of this young side and I hope he proves me wrong instead of being a representative of the “local stakeholders” in Nigerian football.
Only time would tell.