Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr has brushed aside suggestions his team will be out for revenge when they face African Champions Algeria in a friendly on Friday.
The Desert Foxes of Algeria and Nigeria clash for the fourth time in Rohr’s time as head coach and the first time since a last-gasp Riyah Mahrez free-kick condemned the Super Eagles to a heartbreaking defeat in the semifinals of the 2019 AFCON with the North Africans going on to lift the trophy.
Prior to that defeat, Nigeria bested Algeria 3-1 in Uyo and nicked a 1-1 draw in Constantine to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup ahead of the Desert Foxes.
But the defeat at the AFCON still rankles and as both sides get set to clash once again, followers of the Super Eagles see an opportunity to exact revenge but Rohr sees the encounter differently, insisting that it is just a game to test new players and fine tune preparations for next month’s 2022 AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone.
When asked whether the clash would be a revenge mission or a plain old friendly joust, Rohr replied: “It is not a friendly, it is not a revenge, it is a preparation game; a test game.”
The former Gabon manager pointed out the absence of key players means the friendly would mostly serve as a means of assessing replacements and the eight newly called up players.
“So, when you test new players, you have a new midfield because unfortunately, we will miss not only Osimhen but also three of our best midfielders so we have to see if we the people who can replace them very well and play still the same good football.”
Algeria are unbeaten in two years, a run spanning 18 games and Rohr says their form makes them formidable foes for his side.
That impressive unbeaten run is something Rohr hopes his side will be able to end on Friday but he acknowledges the enormity of such an undertaking against a team he regards as the best on the continent.
Regardless of the result, the Super Eagles boss says the workout against Algeria will be a good test for his side and help them improve.
“We know this Algerian team are unbeaten for 18 games and they would like to continue the series but we would like to stop it but we know that it will not be easy.
“They made a lot of progress since we met them in Uyo, they are not the same team, there are still some players who are there but they have progressed a lot and for the moment I think they are number one in Africa even if they are only number four in the ranking for me they are the strongest team in Africa so it will be a really big test for us.
“We don’t play for the result, when we play against strong teams you will improve that is what we are searching for. The result is not the most important.
“So, the objective is to prepare the AFCON, and the World Cup [qualifiers].”
The Super Eagles play Algeria on Friday, at the Worthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt with kick off at 7:30 Nigerian time.