Rohr: Eagles’ll Beat Cameroon, Mikel Should Avoid China; Iheanacho, Moses Will Rule Africa

Rohr: Eagles’ll Beat Cameroon, Mikel Should Avoid China; Iheanacho, Moses Will Rule Africa

Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr is confident the Super Eagles have what it takes to pick the sole ticket for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The German coach also spoke on a variety of issues at a meeting with reporters in Lagos, such as monitoring Cameroon and Algeria in the 2017 AFCON, Mikel John Obi's reported Chinese move, Nigeria poor record against Cameroon, invitation to new players amongst others.


Completesportsnigeria.com's JAMES AGBEREBI was there…


Zenith Ziva


On the issue of Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo not commanding regular playing time in their clubs…

In each national team you have players who can have problems in their clubs. I knew of this situation already in other countries, in Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso. For example Alain Traore for Burkina Faso who didn't play. So this situation is not new for me. Now the January transfer window is open which means these players can change clubs. I had contact on Tuesday morining with one of our players in Turkey. So what we want to do now is help him find a club. Of course our job is also to help players to play or change clubs, to give good information to managers in order to make things work.

We had problems with the right-back position and the player who is expected to play there, Musa Muhammed, has to change clubs too. When I don't have players playing, I try to find those who are playing. Players are everywhere even those with double nationality.

On the long break before the African World Cup qualifiers resume and the condition of the players who would have rested after a long season…

We know that it can be dangerous to have such a long break. But we have friendly games and we have qualifiers for the next Africa Cup of Nations in 2019 which start in March. So we will have the games but though Cameroon and Algeria will be in the AFCON which is good because it is always good to play in such competitions. But unfortunately we will not be there. But we will watch and observe.

And it is important to note that these countries (Cameroon and Algeria) can have problems before the qualfiers resume like injuries. That's the only positive for them which is playing in the AFCON. We are optimistic and the good thing is that within the period we can find one or two players to bring into the team. In March we plan to meet Senegal in a friendly game because they play similar football like Cameroon. And in June, we plan to play another team who play similar football to Cameroon.

In August, as we know in England they will start late. They start training in the end of August which means the players will be fit. The players are motivated and I am really happy about that.

On the issue of finding alternatives in weak areas in the Super Eagles…

In the right-back position, I have met with Tyrone Ebuehi. A very good player. I invited him the last time but he only just started to play for ADO Den Haag. But now, he is playing regularly. I have spoken with his parents and they are in support. The manager and agent are okay with everything.

So Tyrone will be there in March for our next game. So we will have a new right-back or even left-back because he can play in both positions. He is big, he is quick and grew up in Amsterdam. We will see his integration into the team which will not be easy. Aside from Tyrone, we have found a player in Germany who was playing in the Bundesliga last year but has gone down on relegation. He is 20 years old. He told me it's an honour for him to come to play for the country of his father, his mother is German. He is like Balogun, very quick and very good. Hopefully he will come too. 

So now, we have the time to see them play in their clubs, speak and meet with them, bring them in a good condition in order to help us for the qualification.

On his plans for the home-based players…

When I started, my first trip was to go to Spain to see the NPFL All Stars play against Atletico Madrid and Valencia. The players are supposed to be the best in the Nigerian league. At the Olympics, I saw all the games and I was able to pick some players for the Super Eagles like (Oghenekaro) Etebo and (William) Troost-Ekong. 

Our objective is to have young players. Players who are motivated, players who like their country and are honoured to represent their country. For the local players, I have my assistants, Imama (Amakapabo) who sends me videos of all the best players, which is why I am happy to have him in my staff. Even when I don't see a lot of the games, the chief coach Salisu Yusuf is on hand to give me important information. I listen to them and together we do the work because I cannot be everywhere. 

In the game against Algeria, we had five local players. I saw them in Spain and my assistants recommended them. I trust my assistants and I believe we have a good staff. 

On whether Kelechi Iheanacho's favourable position is a striker or midfielder…

It's still a long time before our next qualifier. A lot of things would have happened. I cannot say who will be our No.9 or No.10. We have our two number nines, Odion Ighalo and Brown Ideye. Of course we have Kelechi who had a good game against Algeria. Also Victor Osimhen is having a good beginning at Wolfsburg. I spoke with Wolfsburg manager and he said Victor is doing very well. And who says Victor who will be playing in the Bundesliga cannot come and play as our number nine? We don't know what the team will be like in the coming months.

On Mikel John Obi's reported move to China…


I prefer Mikel stays in Europe and play in an European team. When I was in London two weeks ago, we spoke about that. But Mikel is an experienced and intelligent player and he knows what to do. If he decides to choose the money of China then we must respect that. If he goes to China and is playing well, he will come.


On Cameroon's edge over Nigeria in past World Cup qualfiers and AFCON finals


Before the game against Zambia, the talk was that Nigeria had never won in Zambia but we went there and won. I am here to make history and I am confident we will beat them in Uyo, I am convinced of that because we have a better team. Cameroon have a good team too, we will see them in AFCON but some of their players are not going to Gabon. And I hope in Uyo, with our 12th man, which is the fans, I am sure we will win the game. It will be difficult, just like against Algeria and Zambia. But we have the players to do it.


On the Super Eagles job being his biggest challenge…


I had challenges in Nice and Bordeaux and also in some of the countries I handled. But I am really happy to have this challenge (handling the Super Eagles). It is a big challenge and going to the World Cup is the highest level for all the players and coaches. 


On monitoring Cameroon and Algeria in 2017 AFCON


It is important to monitor them and it is very important to see them directly. Also it is important to see other African teams, especially as the 2019 AFCON qualifiers will start in March. So it is important to monitor both Cameroon and Algeria but also it is important to see other teams in Gabon.


On the similarities and differences working in other African countries, especially Gabon and Nigeria…


The difference is that in Nigeria, I have some of the best players playing in Europe. In Gabon, I had players who didn't have clubs. There were two players without club. It was not easy but we won our three group games in AFCON 2012. 


On which teams can win the 2017 AFCON…


A lot of teams can win the 2017 AFCON. Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Morocco even Algeria. So there is not one team you can say will win the AFCON, there are five or six teams who can win it.


On whether winning two games in the World Cup qualfier enough to raise confidence…


We have played three games (Tanzania, Zambia, Algeria) and we've made progress which is why I am really optimistic. Also, I am optimistic because our opponents are not better than us. And we have four points and will play at home against Cameroon. It is in our hands to make sure we go to  Russia.

On which Nigerian young talent can be in the running for the Africa Player of  the Year in the nearest future…

I am sure next year one of Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses will be iin the final shortlist for the Africa Player of the Year award. Also on our part, we will do our best to help them.

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  • Wise coach

  • I so much like coach gernort rorh, he has a plan for our super eagle. this man has a good plan for us. NFF should support him in all ways