With crucial matches that will shape his destiny as well as that of the Super Eagles and possibly give the shape of what to expect when the NFF elections are due next year, Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr has again roared out his desire to have Vincent Enyeama back into the Super Eagles’ fold.
The social media and blogs have been agog with Rohr’s statement stating that the Super Eagles’ doors are still open to the former captain in whose home state; the Super Eagles’ nest is based.
This is not the first time the coach had expressed the wish to have Enyeama back. Even before his first outing with the team, he was quoted by FIFA’s weekly publication mid last year as wooing the Lille’s goalkeeper back to the team.
The coach’s statement has also drawn diverse opinions in the social media. While some hold the opinion that there is no goalkeeping problem in the Super Eagles to warrant the strong desire to bring Enyeama back, others believe that even if there were reasons, a player cannot be forced against his will to feature for a team.
No doubt, Enyeama, a centenarian in international appearances, had rendered meritorious services to Nigeria since his first cap, a May 5, 2002 friendly with Kenya.
It is left for him to yield to the call that he should return, even if to mentor up and coming goalkeepers in the team. Rohr, to the best of my knowledge had employed all the persuasive elements he could summon.
Last September, Rohr granted an interview with FIFA 1904, a weekly publication of the world football ruling body. He affirmed that with Enyeama’s experience, “he’d be good for the team and for Nigerian football as whole.
“Vincent has played at three World Cups and everyone wants him to reconsider…Of course, there’s always a story behind the decision.
“He didn’t agree with certain things and certain people”. Rohr did not explain those people, even though the former coach, Sunday Oliseh is certainly one of such.
Rohr said he told Enyeama to forgive and forget, like Nelson Mandela did. “Is there a better example from Africa?” Rohr asked. Seven months down the line, Enyeama is unyielding. It might appear one is beating a dead horse to continue to put pressure on him.
Besides Sunday Oliseh, who are the other people Enyeama has problems with? This is a poser begging for answers. A blog, Tomiwabablola.com, reported Rohr as saying: “I think he had a problem with the federation so he wanted someone to call him before coming.”
His last outing for Nigeria was the June 13, 2015 Afcon qualifier in Kaduna in which he criticised the choice of venue. He ran into trouble with the NFF. Could this be the root of the problem rather than the outburst Enyeama had with Sunday Oliseh before the friendly duel with DR. Congo in Belgium?
One should however understand the Rohr’s desire to have Enyeama. The Super Eagles have goalkeeping problems. Carl Ikeme is good, but he is prone to injury and had to be ruled out of some games, both for his club and Nigeria, in the past 12 months.
There seem to be no effective alternatives to him each time he was unavailable to Nigeria. There are already fears that another injury may have ruled him out of Nigeria’s next fixture in June.
With an apparent dwindling form of Super Eagles’ players in their clubs, additional goalkeeping woes may truncate qualification for both Russia 2018 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations 2019.
It will therefore be good, if Enyeama returns and back up Ikeme while helping in mentoring other goalkeepers. It will be a plus for him to play before his people and be a hero again. He should be able to mentor other goalkeepers.
He will also be a statesman not to contest the captainship of the team, if he returns.
Is it desirable for Vincent Enyeama to return to the Super Eagles? Should Vincent Enyeama return to the Super Eagles? The poll is open. Kindly cast your vote at the right hand side of this blog.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………About the Author
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 the country’s most capped FIFA World Cup journalist having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Brazil 2014.