Super Eagles players will play five friendly matches to prepare for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Cameroon in June, according to the team’s coach Gernot Rohr at Friday morning’s Peak Breakfast with Rohr’s session held in Lagos.
Rohr told his audience Friday morning that the March 2019 fixture against Group E’s whipping boys Seychelles slated to hold inside the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba is a must-win tie for the Super Eagles stressing that: ”I want Nigeria to finish top of the group, irrespective of what Bafana Bafana of South Africa and Libyans do with themselves in the other titanic clash slated for Sfax in Tunisia. We will play to beat Seychelles very well.
”As I sit before you, I’m still struggling to pick the best players which I hope to use to whip Seychelles. No chance of parading any weakened side simply because we have qualified, ” Rohr said.
Rohr didn’t give any hint about who the Eagles’ other opponent in March will be, although he was confident that the team will play one friendly in March, where he hopes to make as many as six changes required for such friendly ties.
”In my plans to NFF, I’m also proposing three friendly matches in May, since most of the clubs will end their season early in May. I hope to have between two to three weeks intensive training with the boys to knock them into shape for the Africa Cup of Nations.”
Asked why he has shunned home-based players from his shortlist for matches, Rohr stated it wasn’t quite correct to say that he doesn’t like home-based players, insisting that since he joined Nigeria as the country’s chief coach, he has invited 20 players from the domestic league.
Unfortunately, according to Rohr, not less than 10 of them are currently in Europe playing in some some leagues which he has been monitoring.
”I do not know if some agents and scouts are always waiting for us to invite the home-based to Super Eagles camp or playing them before taking them to Europe. No less than 10 out of the 20 that I have invited are in Europe,” Rohr joked during the Peak Breakfast with Rohr session in Lagos on Friday.
“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. 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.”