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Gernot Rohr's revamped Super Eagles contract takes back seat to coronavirus

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is in Europe, unable to travel due to the coronavirus. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

Under normal circumstances, this should have been the week when Gernot Rohr would have been in the process of signing his new contract as Nigeria coach.

Instead, with sporting activities suspended across the world, the German is stuck in Europe due to the global coronavirus pandemic and he told ESPN that the contract negotiations were the least of his priorities.

Rohr was expected to be in Nigeria at the end of March and stay up until April, guiding the Super Eagles through two Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Sierra Leone, and signing his new deal.

"The contract is going on until the end of June," Rohr said. "But it is not the most important, for me and for everybody. My personal situation is not the most important.

'The most important is the health of everybody, that all is going well for our people and for our fans. And I hope that they will stay safe.

"Don't worry about my contract. It is really not a problem. The problem really is the medical problem, the virus. We are all focused on this so my own situation is secondary."

There are still two months to go until the end of his current deal, and there is a gentleman's agreement that he will be offered a new one, albeit with some slight modifications.

However, while Rohr was deflecting questions about his contract situation, NFF president Amaju Pinnick stirred up something of a storm in a television interview on Monday morning in Lagos.

Pinnick, on Arise TV, confirmed that the federation had made some changes to Rohr's contract.

He said: "We have told him [Rohr] he must live in Nigeria, and that his salary will be paid in Naira [the Nigeria currency]. He must go round league venues and see how he can nurture the players. If he is able to accept, we have a deal."

Pinnick also added that the new contract should be with the coach in a week: "He should get the contract [with the new conditions] in about a week's time so that he can revert after studying it."

Rohr, however, would not be drawn out about how he would respond to his new contract terms. But the coach did indicate that none of it came as a surprise to him.

He added: "In February we had a good meeting in London with the president and my assistant. We were together for two days and we prepared already something for my contract.

"But it is not for me to communicate because I know what we speak about. That is why I said we had a good meeting. We are still in touch.

"But again, it is not the most important at this moment if Rohr has another contract or not. Until the end of my contract, I will continue my work."

But while the "new" conditions laid out by Pinnick may have catered to the demands of some Nigerian football fans, who always demand coaches to live in Nigeria, it may not have done much to smooth relations between coach and boss.

Rohr was always going to be offered a new contract. That much was clear since the rearranged Afcon and World Cup calendars meant there was little time between games to hire a new coach, especially with the current contract running until bang in the middle of qualifiers.

The NFF would have needed to pay Rohr off to terminate his contract early, and embark on a search for a new coach to take over in time to prepare the team for the matches.

That complication has been further exacerbated by the coronavirus shutdown, which means searching for a new coach would be well nigh impossible under the current circumstances.

And there really was no need for the details of the contract to be made public.

If ever there was a marriage borne of both necessity and convenience, this was it. Although it could be argued that Rohr was the one negotiating from a position of greater strength.

Either way, he gets paid, and if he leaves, it would be hard to imagine that he would stay unemployed for long given his record with Nigeria.

Instead, the coach continues to keep his calm about the conditions of his new deal: "There is nothing special to decide. For me it is not a problem."

And in doing so, he stays focused on his immediate task, despite the distressing global situation. Part of continuing that task is staying in touch with his players, making sure that they are healthy and assigning training regimens to those who need them.

Rohr explained: "At this moment, I am thinking of my players. I spoke with all the players from our list and some of them who were not on the list also.

"We give some training to the players, starting with physical coach. Especially some of them who were injured, like the goalkeeper (Francis) Uzoho."