Gernot Rohr has laid the blame for Nigeria’s inability to muster a single goal in two matches against Cameroon on the absence of his first choice forward line.
The Super Eagles played out an anodyne draw with the Indomitable Lions in the concluding fixture of their two-game friendly on Tuesday.
Five-time African champions Cameroon edged the first clash last Friday courtesy of Andre Anguissa’s strike and the Central Africans held a largely toothless Nigeria attack led by Paul Onuachu and Kelechi Iheanacho at arms length in the second encounter played at the Stadion Wiener Neustadt in the Austrian capital, Vienna.
Rohr was without several Eagles first team players including Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Samuel Kalu and Joe Aribo who all pulled out of the friendlies with injuries and their absence, the Franco-German claimed, robbed his side of incisiveness and contributed to their bluntness in front of goal across both matches.
The former Gabon coach, however, picked several positives from the goalless second leg, singling out Galatasaray defender Valentine Ozornwafor who earned his first start and second cap as a replacement for the injured William Troost-Ekong in the middle of defence.
“We had a problem to build the defence, so we played the first time with Valentine, and he did very well,” Rohr told NFF media after the match. “We finished the match with Simon Moses, who is a winger, at the left back position. We didn’t concede a goal, I’m very happy for Valentine.”
“A lot of people did not understand why he was with us. He showed today the reasons why he can play with us. He did very well with his left foot in central defence. The result is not the most important in these friendlies. The most important is to test some players, to see some new faces, which was the case again today.
“We didn’t want to concede a goal, we wanted to score but could not, but when you’re missing players like Osimhen, like Chukwueze, Aribo, Kalu, Henry [Onyekuru] it’s not easy. But they did well, we had a lot of chances to score, we missed a little bit of realism in front of goal, but the match today was interesting.”
Despite being unable to score a goal in two games and seeing his side fail to break their winless streak in Austria, Rohr who pointed out most of the players had just ended gruelling club seasons, declared himself satisfied with the Vienna expedition and expressed confidence his team will be in good shape when the 2022 World Cup qualifiers kick off in September.
“It was the last match of the season for some of them. They came in the middle of the holidays to work hard for ten days with us, and the fruits of the work will come. I think we will be ready in September for our World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde.”