SUPER Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr believes that Nigeria’s next opponents in the African Cup of Nations are likely to be either South Africa or the Democratic Republic of Congo so his scouts have begun watching both teams.
Later this afternoon, the Eagles will face Madagascar in their final Group B game after securing two narrow 1-0 victories over Burundi and Guinea in their two opening games. A win today will take the Eagles to the top of the group and theoretically, they will face one of the third-placed teams in Group A, C or D.
According to Mr Rohr, Nigeria will face either South Africa or Congo in the next phase of the tournament, so his assistants are already running the rule over the two potential opponents. He added, however, that the plan is for Nigeria to emerge top of the group, as that way, they will face a lesser text in the Round of 16.
Mr Rohr added: “It is important to finish first in the group because it is better to play a third placed team than second, so we will do all to finish top of the group. It can be three different teams, so we have our scout Agali watching a lot of games in Cairo, we have all the matches on TV and we can see our analyzer Nabi Trabelsi.
“We have to prepare to play against a good team, we know that it could be South Africa if they are third, or could be Congo eventually. In all the cases, there will be very tough matches in the round of 16 but we are not there for the moment.”
For today’s game, Mr Rohr is expected to rest a few key players and it is rumoured that goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Kenneth Omeruo and winger Simon Moses may be rested. Also, Ahmed Musa and Oghene Etebo are expected to be left after picking up a yellow card each, with skipper Mikel Obi and Samuel Chukwueze returning to the starting line-up.
Mr Rohr added: “The Madagascar team did better than us in scoring three goals against teams we scored two against. They were better offensively against them but we have a solid performance in our two games, as we didn’t concede a goal.
“This will be an interesting match against a team with a lot of offensive qualities and the winner will come first in the group, so it is a big motivation for us to win this game. We know that a draw is enough to finish top but we play to win our games all the time.”
Meanwhile, Mr Rohr offered his condolences to Madagascar following the death of over 16 people at a stadium during independence day celebrations this week. He added that the fact that their national team has already qualified for the next phase of the African Cup of Nations should serve as some consolation for Madagascans.