By James Agberebi:
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has stated that he will be paying serious attention to next year's Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, the Super Eagles absence in the tournament notwithstanding, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The Eagles' opponents in the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, Cameroon and Algeria, are among the teams that will participate at the 2017 AFCON.
The Eagles lead Group B on six points after two rounds of matches in the qualifiers while their next opponent in the qualifiers, Cameroon, have two points.
And speaking in a video interview posted on the Super Eagles official Twitter handle on Thursday, Rohr said they were planning series of friendly games for the team. He insisted that a lot of work would be done ahead of the next rounds of the qualifiers in August 2017.
"We must strenghten the team in certain positions. We have some problems we must be honest. We must say that not all is perfect. A lot of work still need to be done," the Super Eagles gaffer stated.
He continued: "We must find solutions to certain positions. I will be monitoring some players for certain positions. Also I will be monitioring the 2017 AFCON and will be focusing on Cameroon and Algeria.
"We will have friendly games, and for instance, we have the qualifiers for the next AFCON which is in March, so it is possible we start our preparation towards the World Cup qualifiers in March. And in June we plan to have two friendly games. So we have a lot of things to do; like going to see the players and speak to their coaches in their clubs.
"The biggest work which is the physical work is done in the clubs and we must have good relationship with the coaches, with the doctors and players. And it is important that these clubs know that we are monitoring these players."
Rohr expressed delight that the Eagles are leading their World Cup qualifying group, but pointed out that they are not getting ahead of themselves.
Rohr remarked: "This is a good feeling (Eagles topping the group) because we've had three games (his first official game against Tanzania). We are happy to start with victories in good games. We are happy the public is coming to have a positive look on the Super Eagles team and we know that it's a long way to go to Russia. Another four games and another 12 points to fight for. We are happy but we are humble."
On what is the motivating factor in the Super Eagles' fold, Rohr said:" The players are hungry because they want to go to the World Cup and they are hungry young players. Many of them don't have titles and they don't have experience in international football. So when you are young, you are always motivated to be successful and I feel this in the team.
"To go to Russia for these players is more than a dream. They've missed two AFCONs which is difficult for a big country like Nigeria.
On the secret of the Eagles' victories against Zambia and Algeria, he said: "The most important thing was to win these two games. And it was difficult to go to Zambia in our first leg because they have good team. We didn't have enough time to see the players and build a real team.
"But the game against Tanzania gave us the occasion to work in a good direction. In analysing the two games against Zambia and Algeria, in Zambia, we attacked and scored two goals. An against Algeria, we did the same thing. We had good beginning in both games. But in the second half, my young players struggled physically. Against Algeria, we defended well, but against Zambia we were not so good, but it was enough to win the game.
"What is good now is that the players are changing, but the system and philosophy is remaining. Players can come and go, but the spirit is very important for the future.
The Rohr video interview also touched on the role played by the fans against Algeria in Uyo.
He recalled thankfully: "The fans in Uyo were fantastic against Algeria. They were the 12th man. Our players were tired in the second half against Algeria, but the fans kept pushing them which helped them to defend and score the third goal.
"So we are happy to be in Uyo, the stadium was wonderful, the pitch was very good. I also know in Abuja we have fans who are fantastic. So we plan to do our best to give them satisfaction. I promise them that the players will always fight for their country and will always give their best."