As Super Eagles take on reigning African champions Algeria this evening in Austria, Head Coach of the Nigerian senior team, Gernot Rohr has insisted that vengeance is least in his mind against the Fennecs.
Nigerian lost the semi final of last year’s Africa Cup of Nations to the North Africans who later were crowned champions of the 2019 edition held in Egypt.
Speaking in a Zoom virtual conference yesterday, Rohr insisted that rather than thinking of beating the reigning AFCON champions, “this international window is an opportunity to try out new players and also look at regulars to see how they are faring.
“These are tests for us. The results of these friendlies not important but what we can take away from them,” stress Rohr.
Super Eagles defeated the Algerians in Uyo and also went ahead to grab a draw in the final game of the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
Although that last match was later awarded to the Algerians following Nigeria’s use of ineligible Shehu Abdullahi, the Fennecs have gone 18 matches unbeaten since then.
“We know this Algeria side have been unbeaten in 18 games since we defeated them in Uyo. They are really progressing. They are perhaps the strongest team in Africa right now. The match will be a real test for Nigeria,” opined the Franco-German gaffer.
Rohr who is in Austria without half of his regular starting line up have eight uncapped players to pick for the matches against the top North African teams. The fresh faces include; Cyriel Dessers (Genk), Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto), Frank Onyeka (FC Midtjylland), Samson Tijani (TSV Hartberg), Kevin Akpoguma (Hoffenheim), Tobias Lawal (LASK) and Matthew Yakubu (SKF Sered).
He insisted that the Friendlies will enable him take critical look at the new boys.
“I want to see what the new players have to offer. We already seen what the can do at training sessions but that is different from true match situations,” the Eagles Manager stressed.
Rohr admitted to missing the services of his midfielders like Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Joe Aribo. Both Ndidi and Etebo are down with injuries while Aribo is just coming back from similar situation.
Nigeria’s free scoring forward, Victor Osimhen is equally absent due to health protocol in the Italian topflight that has forced the entire Napoli squad into self-isolation after two players and some backroom staff test positive for the virus.
“Absence of (Victor) Osimhen is a void. He did so well in the last game for the team.
“However, we have to call up Paul (Onuachu), (Cyriel) Dessers and Chidera Ejuke who are all doing so well with their clubs. We also have Kelechi Iheanacho who has shown good quality at training and the other strikers like (Ahmed) Musa.”
If there is any area in the Super Eagles that has created so much excitement for Coach Rohr, it is in the goalkeeping section where four young lads are proving their mettle in the Austrian Camp.
In the absence of Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Rohr have in camp, Dele Alampasu, Matthew Yakubu, Maduka Okoye and Tobias Lawal who was not initially invited.
“Tobias was man of the match in LASK last game before our camp opened. He has played Under-20 for Austria. The only problem we have with him is that he does not have a Nigerian passport yet, meaning we cannot feature him in the friendlies yet. He has a good future with Nigeria,” Rohr stressed.