By Kayode Ogundare:
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has okayed the recent transfers of captain Mikel Obi as well as striker Odion Ighalo to the Chinese Super League as a good development which will positively rub off on the senior national team when the qualifiers for the AFCON 2019 and World Cup 2018 kick off in June and August respectively.
Rohr, addressing the transfers to the cash-rich but relatively inferior quality Chinese League, dismissed fears that it could affect the form and performance of the Super Eagles stars.
laimed that going to China was a far better option than sitting on the bench at Chelsea and Watford respectively.
“The first thing to note is that these guys were not playing at all in their former clubs and now that they have got new clubs it means they will be playing regularly," Rohr said in Sagamu where he watched a Nigeria Professional Football League match between Remo Stars and Niger Tornadoes on Wednesday.
"This is good for the Super Eagles and for our aspirations to be at the World Cup. Playing in China is certainly better than sitting on the bench in their former clubs. As professionals I expect them to raise their game as they have been doing even when not playing regularly. “
The German also debunked insinuations about the quality of the Chinese league by claiming that the recruitment of high-profile players has seen the quality of the league improve dramatically over the last few years.
Rorh added: “They play good football in China now. It’s no longer the exotic football they used to play. Now they play ‘real’ football there. They have a real football league with very good players from all over the world and I’m happy that our captain has been able to secure a very good contract. " Now he gets to play regularly and he’s also the captain of his team. I’m also happy for Ighalo because he will get to play and score plenty of goals.”
Mikel and Ighalo made January transfers to Tianjin Teda and Changchun Yatai respectively after seeing little or no action with their former English Premier League sides.