Having missed two consecutive AFCON tournaments, it will definitely be unacceptable if Nigeria fails to qualify for the 2019 edition taking place in Cameroun. This, I believe must have been on the mind of Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr while speaking with reporters some days back.
Rohr said that he expects his team to go past South Africa at home in June on their way to qualifying for AFCON 2019. The Super Eagles are drawn against South Africa, Libya and Seychelles for a place at the 2019 AFCON. In further demonstration of his confidence and belief his team, he stated the Super Eagles will scale the hurdle of the in Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in FIFA World Cup qualifiers which resumes in August.
Meanwhile, Nigeria will host the Bafana Bafana of South African in June to kick start the AFCON 2019 qualifiers. The Bafana Banfana knocked Nigeria out of the race for the 2015 edition that held in Equitorial Guinea. So, there’s a pound of flesh to be extracted!
In Rohr’s words, “Nigeria cannot miss the AFCON again because it’s a big tournament to celebrate African football. I hope we will be there at the next tournament,” Continuing, “But to do that we have to eliminate South Africa, who are a good team.
“We need a good preparation and organization. We will have two friendly games next month and we have the possibility to test some new players and be together.”
Reviewing the just concluded Gabon AFCON 2017, the 63 years old German declared that “the AFCON was a good tournament in Gabon and there were some good teams. The best team won the competition. We are interested in this team because we play them in the World Cup qualifiers,”
The FIFA World Cup double header against Cameroon is billed for August 28 in Uyo and September 2 in Limbe. Nigeria sits atop the group with six points while the new African champions have two points. What this imply is that any slip up by the Super Eagles will blow open the group.
Confirming that he understands the enormity of the task ahead, Rohr said that he was happy for Cameroon. He emphasized that his feelings about the Lions notwithstanding; Nigeria must beat the African champions in order to secure the lone spot for the showpiece coming up in Russia in 2018.
He is also very certain that we will be both at the world cup and AFCON. His level of conviction and optimism struck me. I was therefore left wondering what could happen if we are all a bit less negative about our country and hope for the best while working at the ideals to make it so. I think we should borrow a leaf from our German gaffer as his approach seemed to have robbed off positively on the team.
I mean the Super Eagles are top of their World Cup qualifier group and did play with some conviction the last time in Uyo against the Desert Warriors of Algeria. If we borrow Rohr’s attitude, maybe, just maybe; our Nation will learn to ‘play’ again!