Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has rejected Nigeria’s tag as favourites in their group for the second phase of the 2022 world cup qualifying campaign.
Three-time African champions Nigeria were handed a seemingly easy pathway to the final round of qualifying after they were drawn alongside Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia in Tuesday’s draw.
None of Nigeria’s group opponents have managed a world cup appearance while the Super Eagles are looking to make the Mundial for a fourth straight time and seventh time in total.
Only Cameroon with seven appearances have more world cup berths than Nigeria although the Super Eagles have never managed four straight appearances falling short in 2006 after three straight appearances between 1994 and 2002.
Rohr oversaw Nigeria’s last qualifying campaign guiding an unbeaten Super Eagles to a spot in Russia with consummate ease and a game to spare despite being in a group that had then African champions Cameroon and current champions Algeria.
However, despite the contrast in the pedigree of opponents this time around, the German pushed back against suggestions the Super Eagles have been handed an easy group warning that every team will pose a difficult challenge more so when the Eagles are seen as favourites.
“All the groups you see all the teams are difficult to beat and nobody can say it is a good draw and we must be very careful because I think a lot of people will believe that we are the favourites of the group and it’s always difficult to be favourites in the group,” Rohr told ESPN football writer Colin Udoh.
The former Bordeaux manager, however, said the Super Eagles have a squad that is equal to the task.
“We have a team who is able to do it and I have confidence in my young team but we still have to work to progress and to do well. so we are careful, very confident but still careful at the same time,” he continued.
“I am confident because our team is on the right way and they will progress but we have to work very hard to prepare well like we did in the last edition and it is very important to start well.”