The German tactician has relied heavily on overseas-born stars for the national team during his spell in charge, extracting mixed reactions from ex-internationals
Former Ajax winger, George Finidi, has expressed his support for Gernot Rohr’s preference for populating the Super Eagles with Nigerian footballers born abroad.
Over the last few years, Nigeria have been able to convince the likes of William Troost-Ekong, Ola Aina, Leon Balogun, Semi Ajayi, and, more recently, the duo of Kingsley Ehizibue and Cyriel Dessers to play for the Super Eagles.
Rohr has been able to blend these stars with a few homegrown boys, forging a team that reached the semifinals of the AFCON last year.
Finidi, in quotes carried by the Punch, insists the drop in quality in the local league, and not the Super Eagles head coach, be blamed for the reduction in opportunities afforded NPFL stars.
“This has to do with our local league,” the one-time Super Eagles number seven said.
“The quality of the NPFL has dropped, and the players you have are not what the top teams in Europe need, so coaches may tend to chase these overseas-born players to play for the Eagles.
“That is the problem we have. We have to pump up our league and grassroots football development.
“We have to make the league more competitive to rekindle people’s interest in it.”
But former Super Eagles defender Ajibade Babalade is not convinced that the foreign-based players are better than their home-based counterparts.
The Senegal 1992 AFCON star maintains that the exploits of Victor Osimhen and Wilfred have shown that given the right support, Nigerian-born stars can rise to the top of the game.
“They need to give more preference to players in the NPFL; otherwise, we should not run the league,” Babalade said.
“The overseas-born players aren’t that better than the players developed in Nigeria.
“Look at (Victor) Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, and the likes of Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho. These players started from scratch in Nigeria and made it to the top, so if there’s a good structure to ensure growth we won’t need them.”
Lagos-born Osimhen, 21, only recently signed a multi-million dollar deal with Napoli that made him the most expensive African footballer of all time.