Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr has revealed how Arsenal starlet Kelechi Nwakali missed out on the team’s 30-man provisional squad for this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Nigerian fans were impressed with Nwakali’s performance against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday and that prompted questions about his omission from the World Cup squad.
Rohr answered those questions earlier on Friday afternoon at a media briefing in Uyo.
The Franco-German tactician said: “It (the list) was not of my own making alone. I have backroom staff, including the medical team and I gathered all of them in my house. We looked at the players one by one and asked what qualities they have, and how they will complement the other players.”
“Of course I looked first at the players who were with us for the qualifiers but then I also looked at other players who have done well for their clubs. That’s why you see players like Junior Lokosa who is doing very well in the Nigerian league and Simy Nwakwo who had an excellent season in Italy.”
On the issue of Nwakali, Rohr said: “Nwakali is a good player. I knew him before now and he was in my list of 35 players. We had a team of 50 players which we pruned down to 35 and then 30. By the time he played against Atletico, we had already submitted the 30-man list on May 14 and the game against Atletico was on May 22 so it was too late to include him. He’s in my plans and definitely he will be invited after the World Cup.”
Rohr also hinted that new invitees Lokosa and Nwankwo will be given their opportunities against DR Congo on Monday. He said: “We will see them on Monday and hopefully they will make a case for their inclusion with their performance against Congo DR and even if they don’t get to be selected, they would have learnt valuable lessons from training with the team. But I have been impressed so far with their performances.”