Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, has stated that he did his best to ensure that Chelsea winger Victor Moses did not quit the national team after Nigeria’s poor outing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia but his efforts ended in futility.
Moses on August 15, 2018, announced his retirement from international football making 37 appearances for Nigeria. The decision according to him was to enable him to focus on his club, career and his young family as well as allow the next generation of Super Eagles stars step up and flourish in their various positions.
Rohr replying questions from football lovers all over the world at the Peak Breakfast with Rohr organised for Sports Editors in Lagos, said: “I tried to convince him that it was not the best time to retire but he said he wanted to focus on his club career. I hope he will get an opportunity to play in Chelsea or with another club.”
The Franco-German tactician also stated that the door is not closed to the versatile player. “I hope he will change his mind because he is only 27 years old. That is too young an age to retire.”
Moses who helped Nigeria win her first Africa Cup of Nations trophy in 2013 after 19 years and also featured at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups has had a difficult time at Chelsea since the arrival of Maurizio Sarri playing just twice in the ongoing English Premier League.
Meanwhile, Rohr has acknowledged that there is ‘a lot of work to do’ before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
After playing out a 1-1 stalemate with South Africa in last Saturday’s qualifying game, the three-time African champions returned to the tournament after missing out on the previous two editions.
The draw helped them to maintain their place at the summit of Group E with 10 points from five games and the 65-year-old, pleased with the improvement of the Super Eagles under him, acknowledged that there is still much to cover.
“We don’t just want to qualify for the AFCON, we want to finish top of our group. We need to win against Seychelles to achieve that,” Rohr said.
“We still have a lot of work to do. We’ve really improved from the point I took over the Super Eagles. The joy to play good football, defend and score goals has now improved. We make fewer mistakes now as a team.”
Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel has not featured for the team since leading them at the World Cup in Russia but Rohr insisted that the former Chelsea midfielder is still in his plan.
“That (Samuel) Chukwueze wore the number 10 jersey against Uganda doesn’t translate to being a replacement for Mikel. It’s just a jersey number he used,” he said.
“Mikel remains in our plans and we all know why he has been out of the team. Mikel Obi will decide if he wants to play at AFCON 2019. He was omitted because of fitness issues, but we will look at his performance before the tournament.
“After the FIFA World Cup in Russia, Obi Mikel wanted to take a break. He told me he needed rest and motivation. When he is ready, he will be back. Mikel is a fantastic captain.”
The German tactician also explained why Samuel Kalu has been preferred to Moses Simon in the Super Eagles set-up recently, backing his decision to deploy the Bordeaux winger in a wing-back role against South Africa.