The German tactician has received criticism for many things, including inviting too many foreign-born stars and ignoring NPFL players, but the latest dig from an ex-international may be the harshest
Former Nigeria international Tijani Babangida believes the Super Eagles now play a brand of unattractive football tagged ‘kick and follow’, a wide deviation from the country’s Brazilian-kind of attacking play.
The Nigerian national team rose to global prominence in the late eighties, winning over many fans with their style of play, which placed a lot of emphasis on wing-play and individual brilliance.
But the three-time African champions have come under heavy criticism for lacking a definite playing style under German tactician Rohr.
The former Gabon head coach has managed to stay above his critics by guiding the Super Eagles to qualify for the last two major tournaments – the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 AFCON – with a game to spare during each qualification campaign.
But the harsh reviews have been endless in a year the Super Eagles failed to win any of the four matches played in 2020, including back-to-back games against lowly Sierra Leone.
Former Ajax winger Babangida says the reason the Super Eagles struggles to win football matches in recent years is that the team has abandoned its football culture.
“We never knew Nigeria as a country that plays kick and follow football, but we already lost our culture of football in Africa,” Babangida told the Punch.
“We have our own culture of play, just like the Brazilians, and I believe only Nigeria and Brazil have that culture in football. But we have lost it.
“You will discover that whenever we play against any team with whatever tactics they come up with, they fall down easily when we start playing our game.”
Rohr has received several knocks for preferring foreign-based ahead of domestic league players, and Babangida believes that the national team recruitment policy of the former Bordeaux manager is faulty.
“Now we have changed, and we are not looking for those kinds of players that suit the system. And then we find it difficult because we are playing the 4-4-2 defensive system, and that’s why we are always having problems.
“Nigeria is a country with a lot of potential players, and the only country that can compete with Nigeria in terms of potential is Brazil.
“We are almost the same as them, and that’s why we were always beating other Africans or other nations when we played against them because we have the quality, we have the group, and we also have the culture. But that culture is what we have lost,” the former Super Eagles winger concluded.