●Furious Rohr Asks Staff
●As Kelechi Nwakali’s Debate Rages
Impeccable sources close to Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr say the man is furious over the inability of his backroom staff and aides to bring to his notice the huge talent of 18-year old MVV Maastricht of Holland loanee forward from Arsenal, Kelechi Nwakali who stole the show following his scintillating display and television goal in the friendly against La Liga giants and Europa League champions, Atletico Madrid on Tuesday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium Uyo.
“Since Tuesday after the game Rohr has been asking us about Kelechi Nwakali”, begins one of the backroom staff. “He cannot believe that such a huge talent is not part of his provisional list. He keeps asking us, how did we miss him?”, my source added.
I further gathered that Rohr is just trying to be himself and not to be seen to be under pressure or indecisive otherwise he would have changed his mind by including Nwakali in the provisional list. According to one of my sources, Rohr was told about Kelechi but there was immense pressure on him then from some people in the NFF which led to his crying out and insisting on keeping Tunde Adelakun with him as contact person.
Says my source, “I actually told him (Rohr) about Kelechi long before now but an influential figure in the NFF who has since left blocked the boy’s call up on ground that he (NFF bigwig) had an axe to grind with Emmanuel Amunike said to be very close to the boy. Amunike selected and appointed him captain of world conquering Golden Eaglets of 2015 class. More so, Rohr was under pressure then on the players he was inviting. We have made him understand that we actually mentioned Kelechi to him and the boy was actually invited on one occasion but the circumstances surrounding the team them made it almost impossible to pay any attention in the boy.”
Missing the World Cup is just by stroke of fate for Nwakali whose elder sibling Chidebere also had a brilliant game against Atletico Madrid. Chidebere was in the class of 2013 Golden Eaglets which had Kelechi Iheanacho. Some will sneak into the squad at the eleventh hour like Simeon Nwankwo of Italian side Crotone and Junior Lokosa of Kano Pillars without being part of the qualifiers yet some would miss the party despite getting opportunities to feature in the qualifiers or international friendlies leading to the World Cup.
Perhaps if the game against Atletico Madrid had been played before the release of the provisional list, Nwakali brothers may have been included alongside one or two others from that friendly. Recall that 19-year old Bartholomew Ogbeche got into Adeboye Onigbinde’s Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup squad after that bicycle kick in the friendly against Kenya.
By Desmond Ekwueme