Gernot Rohr took over the Super Eagles job in 2016 when the boys were completely out of confidence after failing to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 AFCON tournaments respectively.
The German tactician knew the task ahead of him as he needed to start his rebuilding process.
Luckily for Rohr, a dead-rubber AFCON qualifying game against Tanzania provided him with the chance to have a glimpse of his new team’s abilities and where to start his job.
The game ended 1-0 in favor of the already-eliminated West African side.
Leicester City striker kelechi Ihenacho deservedly made the headlines following his eye-catching goal which was later nominated for CNN goal of the week.
Though Etebo wasn’t available to showcase his potential to the new gaffer, the former Warri Wolves man eventually made his debut under Rohr in their 3-1 victory over Algeria Some months later.
His attacking potentials were obviously seen throughout the duration of the encounter while he didn’t run away from making needful tackles at the backend of the pitch.
He definitely put up a performance that won the gaffer’s love.
Etebo expectedly became one of the untouchables in the team as he seamlessly made Rohr’s starting lineup irrespective of the gaffer’s tactics or the presence of newly invited competitors.
He played every minute of all the matches played by the team at the Russia 2018 World Cup and he repeated the same feat in Egypt where he featured in all of the country’s fixtures during this year’s AFCON tournament.
Things remain that way until recently when he began to find it difficult to get regular game-time at his club side stoke city.
His move to Stoke City before the last World Cup tournament was largely – and rightly – criticized by many super eagles followers who believed he could have waited for better and high profile suitors after the tournament in Russia.
Unfortunately for Etebo, his stay at the Britannia was one to forget as he wasn’t rated by the current manager who questioned his commitment and hard work to the team.
He managed just 11 games from possible 25 (Transfermarkt) before he eventually joined Getafe on loan during the winter transfer period as part of his mission to bring his career back on track.
However, his struggles at Stoke City is having a negative impact on his ‘untouchable’ status in the Nigeria national team.
He was surprisingly overlooked by Rohr for the first time in more than two years due to loss of form and slight injury concern.
To worsen situations for the former Las Palmas midfielder, one certain Joe Aribo emerged from Scottish side Rangers and he was invited to camp ahead of the team’s highly-rated friendly encounter against Ukraine in September.
The 23-year-old, who shares some same similarities with Etebo, wasted no time before settling into the team as he was named in the starting XI.
Aribo‘s beautiful goal gave the team a surprise lead against the European side which ultimately won the fans and gaffer’s love.
Though it ended in a 2-2 draw, Aribo played massive role which has helped him become a mainstay in the team.
The England-born star is now seen as the perfect Wilfred Ndidi’s partner at the middle of the park, leaving Etebo with a huge hurdle to cross when he eventually returns to the team.
Does it mean Etebo is no longer rated by Rohr? Absolutely no, but the player must take every chance that comes his way if he must reclaim his place in the team.