By Amaechi Agbo
As international football returns after covid-19 enforced break, Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr has expressed concern that his 2022 FIFA World Africa qualifying opponents are tough and should not be underrated, Nations winners will navigate the group and qualify for the mundial.
Rohr who took the Eagls to 2018 tournament but crashed out at the group stage noted that he was going to take the qualifiers one game at a time adding that reaching the knockout stage (if the team qualifies) is a prospect.
“We have three opponents in the group and have to respect all of them,” the coach started.
“Liberia are a team that can’t be underestimated as we saw when we beat them in a friendly. As for Cape Verde, they have players of Portuguese and Brazilian origin, and they can beat any team.
“Central African Republic are an unknown quantity for us, which makes it more difficult. I think the group is tough, but we believe in our capabilities. Given that we qualified from the group of death for Russia 2018, we’re confident we can make it this time as well.”
On the team’s chances of reaching the knockout stage if they qualify, he said “We’ll take it one step at a time. First, we need to qualify, and if we do that, we’ll look at our group at the finals. We’ll try to progress to the knockout stage, which we got very close to two years ago. We have to work hard to achieve that.
“There will be fierce competition regardless, but when we play without fans we’ll miss the excitement. I hope fans can attend games next year as this will make the matches more enjoyable.
The coached noted that the technical crew is in constant touch with the players even during the covid-19 lockdown
“We’re in constant communication with the players, the technical staff, the trainers, the video analyst, and all the coaching staff. Every week we see the players and travel sometimes to meet them as well.
“Recently, I visited [Kevin] Akpoguma, who plays for Hoffenheim. He made the decision to play for Nigeria after representing Germany at youth level. I also keep in touch with Nigerian football officials, with whom I successfully negotiated a contract extension until Qatar 2022, on the condition that we qualify.”