While not privy to the Gernot Rohr’s personal communications, it is not an abundantly arduous task to divine his reaction when Victor Moses broke the sudden, chilling news of his retirement to the Coach. That little jolt, the blank stare, the request for reiteration, the plea, the desperate plea daubed with great times shared and finally the unwilling surrender as he comes to terms with the latest spanner in the works of his promised progress.
Perhaps more accurately, he felt like jilted lover. Moses was the key cog in Rohr’s team, arguably the most important part of his machinery. Rohr has not entirely given up, hoping to woo Moses back to the Super Eagles as the 66-year old stays his course for the “Promise land”.
After Nigeria’s thrilling World Cup campaign, pockmarked with tactical deficiencies and lessons, Rohr leads his charges to the Stade Linite in Seychelles to hunt for their first points in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier without his talisman. The post-Moses years have begun. Though, chances are that an excuse would have been farmed out by Moses for missing the Seychelles game had he not called time on his international career.
Seychelles aren’t exactly big fish to fry, filling out the requirements for the almost demeaning tag minnow. However, as with whenever superior teams play against a team on the other end of the talent divide, the overwhelming sagely advice is never to underestimate the opponents even if they 188 on the FIFA rankings. Nigeria will be expected to defeat Gavin Jeanne’s side especially after the team lost its first game in the qualifiers against South Africa in June 2017 while Seychelles lost their game to Libya 5-1 in the opening game of the qualifier
The game against the Pirates could be the perfect ‘restart’ for Rohr in forging the team especially in the attack. The dependence on Moses was unhealthy most times, with the build-up play lop-sided and predictable. Moses’ inconsistencies and inefficiency on the ball at times didn’t help as team often looked to him to produce magical moments.
His departure opens a new vista for the team as interesting options audition to take his place in the team. Galatasaray’s Henry Onyekuru and Bordeaux’s Samuel Kalu were invited to the squad and have been talked up as potential replacements for the Chelsea player while Moses Simon, uninvited, also remains an option.
The onus definitely falls on Rohr to further shape the side into a more effective unit. Rohr will also be without John Mikel Obi, who sought time to be with his club while Alex Iwobi , Ola Aina and William Troost-Ekong are out with injuries. It will hand an opportunity to Kelechi Nwakali, who has been touted to start in place of the captain. The FC Porto B midfielder earned rave reviews with his performance against Atletico Madrid when he played for the Super Eagle B team in May. The fixture in Victoria holds many questions with Rohr hoping to provide definitive answers when the teams face-off by 1:30 pm Nigerian time.