Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr spoke on several issues in the national team, during a media parley in Lagos, ahead of their AFCON qualifiers versus Benin and Lesotho.
Eagles vs Benin Republic
Everyone wants to beat Nigeria, it is normal. We also want to win there (Porto Novo), so it’s a big challenge because they’ve not lost a match at home in eight years. You should expect a team (Eagles) that wants to play good football first, who are going to show Nigerians that they are fighting for their country and are able to do well in Porto Novo against the team who haven’t lost a game at home, since losing 3-1 to Algeria in a World Cup qualifier in 2013. It’s a huge challenge for us to go and try to win, knowing a point will earn us qualification. We’ve had a good training session and we will go there to qualify. If we can win, we will, but already, a draw is enough for us to qualify. Qualification is our target. The Squirrels are a good team, they came to their country on chartered flight, we couldn’t do the same. In the worst case, we still have the game against Lesotho here, but I’m very confident that we can qualify in Porto Novo.
Paul Onuachu role
Onuachu is part of the team. I invited him for his first match with the Eagles, and he scored a goal after seven seconds. Then people were waiting for him to continue that way, but he couldn’t. He is part of our team, a very important player, but sometimes we also have to lookout for other players who deserve to have a chance. Paul has been with us for almost two years now and we also wanted the opportunity to see Sadiq (Umar), but unfortunately, his club did not release him.
We have other centre forwards like Terem Moffi; we have to give them the opportunity to show what they have, but we cannot invite four centre forwards. Normally, we can have only two. Paul was on the standby list, he is here and that is what is important. The same people who were asking, ‘why are you playing him’ were the same people asking why he was omitted from the initial list of 23.
I was prepared because I knew the COVID-19 situation globally. So, I made a list of players with coaches such as Salisu Yusuf, Imama Amakapabo and Paul Aigbogun. I saw Enyimba play several times in Port Harcourt, so I picked the players who seem to be the best ones, but I didn’t take the decision alone. I sampled the opinion of the local coaches and we ended up inviting three of them.
Eagles’ return to Lagos
We are happy to be in Lagos because we only have one way of travelling to (Porto Novo), instead of going to Asaba, Benin City or Uyo with some players travelling by road, which caused fatigue. In the meantime, they have a lot of facilities in Lagos, which we didn’t have in Benin or Asaba, but Uyo is the best. But I see that the (Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos) pitch is okay. I was there about five weeks ago, I made a point, and now I think the grass will be okay. Now, we will have some fans. I think it will be wonderful to play at the stadium once again, with fans watching, because the players are not used to playing without fans. They will be happy and it will be a good (AFCON qualifying) final match that will be entertaining and I hope we can win for the fans.