*Says it is sign that African football evolving
Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, believes the Super Eagles have ‘good future’ after they played out a 1-1 draw against Brazil in Sunday’s international friendly in Singapore.
The 66-year-old German tactician paraded a young team against the five-time world champions, following a spate of withdrawals by some of his experienced players, including captain Ahmed Musa.
The team, however, gave a good account of themselves with Joe Aribo – making his second appearance for the Super Eagles – scoring the opening goal in the 35th minute before Casemiro’s second-half effort saved the South American champions from defeat.
The draw is the second in a row for the Brazilians after they were held by Senegal in Thursday’s friendly outing.
Rohr is impressed with the performance of his side but admitted the three-time African champions still have to improve.
“It was tough for us as the second game because Brazil would not have wanted to leave Singapore without winning, and it feels very good to know that we can play so well against some of the biggest names in football,” Rohr said in a post-match press conference.
“We didn’t have our best team here, but our wingers gave Brazil a lot of problems on the counter-attack and I am proud of our players. They can have a good future.
“We can still improve in defending set-pieces. We have height, with players as tall as two metres, but we have to be better in the air.
“It is not enough just to have good size, they need to jump well with good timing.”
Rohr believes African football is improving after both Nigeria and Senegal avoided defeat against the world number three.
“These results are good for African football when Senegal and Nigeria did not lose to Brazil, one of the strongest teams in the world,” he added.
Eagles will hope to secure good results when they take on Benin Republic and Lesotho in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games in November.
In the match, it was a strong and competent performance by the Super Eagles who earned the 1-1 draw against the five-time world champions.
Both teams had started with good pace, passion and intensity at the Singapore National Stadium in Kallang.
Brazil’s France-based forward Neymar was forced to quit the game after only 12 minutes, due to injury, but seven minutes later Marquinhos could have put Nigeria in front with a bizarre own goal after his attempt to clear Chukwueze’s pull-out went wrong.
Villarreal FC of Spain’s Chukwueze, a former Nigeria U17 World Cup winner, was a thorn in the flesh of the Selecao throughout, and created chances for Nigeria in the 20th and 24th minute but Osimhen was cut out by an alert Brazilian rear.
In the 35th minute, Nigeria broke through again, this time mining gold. Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, who scored on his debut in the friendly against Ukraine in Dnipro last month, kept his cool and showed cleverness in taking a pass from Moses Simon and ghosting past Casemiro and Thiago Silva to shoot past Ederson for the opener.
The goal expectedly stung the Selecao into greater intensity and desperation, but they could have conceded again two minutes later only for Wilfred Ndidi to shoot directly at Ederson from a counter attack. In the 40th minute, stand –in captain William Ekong, who had a great game alongside central defence partner Semi Ajayi, cleared as Jesus lobbed into the Nigerian box, and four minutes later, a free kick by Coutinho whistled past Uzoho’s post though he had it well covered for the equaliser.