Barely seven weeks to the African Cup of Nations 2019 slated for Egypt, Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr has expressed anxiety over the composition of the team that will represent Nigeria at Africa’s biggest football tournament.
Rohr, who is currently in France, during a telephone chat with journalist, Osasu Obayiuwana, said “We start our preparations on June 2nd and I think that if all things go well, we will have a good tournament. We must, however, respect every opponent. There is no small team now”
He said “We don’t have big players, like Senegal and Egypt, so the Super Eagles must work collectively as a team. This is where our strength lies,”
On issues surrounding some players and departments of the team, Rohr disclosed that he has sent Enrico Pionetti, my goalkeeper trainer, to work on the first-choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho saying “at the moment, it’s not, for now, a question of him being number one but of his being one of our three goalkeepers for the AFCON.”
Of much concern to the Franco-German tactician is the fate of Nigeria’s hottest sensation, Samuel Chukwueze, who has been in great form in the La Liga for his Spanish side, Villarreal, Rohr said “He is a great talent and I would like him in my team, although I don’t know if he will be an immediate starter. The challenge, of course, is that he is also wanted for Nigeria’s U20 football team going to Poland 2019.”
He further revealed “I have had a chat with the coach of Villarreal and they don’t want him to exhaust himself at the U-20 WC and the AFCON, so they want him to choose one tournament. We shall see how best we can manage this situation. But no doubt, he’s a talent for my team.”
Asked if Super Eagles’ Captain, Mikel Obi, who has not played for the team since the Russia 2018 World Cup and in whose absence, the team qualified for AFCON 2019 will be in the team to play his last AFCON for Nigeria?
Rohr replied “This is the question that I and my team will resolve. I will soon go to see him at Middlesbrough. There are many things to consider but I respect him and what he has done for Nigeria. He remains an important player.”
He noted that “He has been away from the team for a year but we qualified for the AFCON without him. His absence, as our captain, has been evident. But he has had to deal with a range of issues, after the World Cup in Russia.”