A former captain of the table tennis section of the Port Harcourt Club, Chief Ernest Elochukwu has challenged the Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, not to be carried away by the Eagles' early qualification for next year's World Cup in Russia.
Rather, Elochukwu wants the coach and the players to ensure that the team get ready for a better showing in Russia, even though he expressed the pessimism that Nigeria could lift the trophy at the end of the day.
He told TNN in an interview that “the Eagles have done us well and yes that match may not be too fantastic in the way it's been done. It may not be too fantastic in the way it was executed. I mean considering the standards. But that is not the issue; the issue is that we have qualified.
“My take now is that, first and foremost congratulations to the technical adviser. I have not been one too crazy about foreign coaches. I have always thought we should do it here; it has given me cause to shift my grounds.
“I have started viewing it from another perspective. That perspective is not because the indigenous coaches are really deficient but because the perception by all those involved ranging from the football administration to the players themselves, how they see the indigenous coach considering that many of the players are coming from a background where they are actually called to wine and dine with the kings in terms of the club side they are playing for in Europe and elsewhere on their own.
“So on their own they will be looking down on the indigenous coaches as those who have not really seen anything. Then you can imagine when someone is being thought by someone he thinks he knows better than, then you know learning will be difficult.”
Elochukwu said his expectation was that with Rohr, a foreigner in charge, those at the helm of affairs at the football house, would give him the respect and free hand to deliver, lamenting that people like the late Stephen Keshi and other indigenous coaches did not get the deserved support from players and officials.
“I believe that Mr Rohr cannot get that same treatment because they will respect him as a foreigner and as an expatriate. Yes, I want to congratulate him for having gotten the qualification.
“But I now want to say fine, having achieved the qualification, the next thing is the expectation. So they will go back to drawing board and do the necessary running and strategization to bring the cup home and if not bring the cup home, do something that will be commendable.”