Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr has admitted to having a selection headache ahead of tomorrow’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal tie against familiar foes South Africa at the Cairo International Stadium.
Having started the tournament with a host of players struggling with injuries and sickness, Rohr revealed in the pre-match conference ahead of Wednesday’s game that he now has his full complement of players available for the first time in Egypt.
“I think now our offensive department is on a good level,” Rohr said speaking on the health of his squad to play South Africa.
“We had some players who were injured who didn’t have so many matches to play, [some players] who were fasting, [some] who were sick so, the preparation was not easy but now, it’s the first time yesterday in the training session that we had 23 players participating. Everybody is for now so it will be very difficult for me to do the team.”
Rohr had earlier declared his team to be underdogs against Wednesday’s opponents, Bafana Bafana, who he’d described as outright tournament favourites after their shock ouster of pre-tournament favourites and hosts Egypt.
And speaking in today’s pre-match conference, the Franco-German doubled down on his stance pointing to not only their performance against Egypt but the fact that South Africa would be in familiar surroundings at the Cairo International Stadium where they eliminated Egypt while the Super Eagles would have to adjust to both the stadium and the climate in Cairo.
Rohr also said his team’s performance in the 2-0 loss to Madagascar and in the 3-2 victory over Cameroon in the last 16 showed his side still has a lot to improve on and must approach South Africa with humility.
“We are realistic, we believe that we still have to improve. We had difficult games, we lost against Madagascar; we suffered against Cameroon we made a lot of mistakes so we are realistic,” Rohr said about his team’s chances against Bafana Bafana.
“South Africa played so well against Egypt that you have to be humble and you still have to work. They have also, the advantage that they know already this stadium they had the success here and are a little bit home already. We arrived yesterday from Alexandria which is not so hot like here and it’s different here so, we have to adapt and we have only one day to adapt now but I think we will be ready.”
Despite downplaying his side’s chances in Wednesday’s quarterfinal tie, Rohr said his team’s performance against Cameroon where they became the first and only team to score past the erstwhile defending champions in the tournament gives him plenty of confidence about his side’s chances against South Africa although he remains adamant that Bafana Bafana will be favourites.
“We made a good game against Cameroon; we also have confidence and so we should expect a match of high quality.
“The two teams can win the match; they both have good strikers and I think the strength of our team should still be the humility and fighting spirit even against South Africa who have suddenly become the favourite of the tournament.
“It will not be easy, but we have also confidence because we scored three goals against a team who didn’t concede a goal in the group stage and who had a very good goalkeeper. So, we are confident also but for me South Africa is favourites.”