10 things we learnt from Super Eagles press conference ahead of the friendly game against Uganda
With Nigeria facing the Cranes of Uganda in a friendly game on Tuesday, November 20, Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr and stand-in captain Ahmed Musa faced the media.
The presser held at the Stephen Keshi Stadium on Monday, November 19 just before the Super Eagles held their training session.
These are 10 things we learnt from the press conference.
1. AFCON 2019 preparation starts now
With the ticket for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations now secured, the Super Eagles are looking to kickstart their preparation for next year’s tourney as soon as possible.
Musa who spoke to the press first said the Uganda game is the start of the preparation for AFCON 2019.
“We qualified for AFCON, for two editions we have not gone to AFCON. We start our preparation from tomorrow. We are not taking this game as a friendly game,” Musa told newsmen.
Rohr reiterated it when he was answering questions from the media.
“Musa repeated what we said in the meeting this morning. Our preparation is starting now,” Rohr also said.
“We only have one FIFA window in March and I have to give my list in May. The first list 25 then the final 23. I want to see the players, the preparation is starting today. The match tomorrow is the first preparation match for the AFCON.”
2. Group chat fosters team spirit
Musa said that the constant interactions within the Super Eagles players have fostered team spirit with the team.
“We have social media now so we have a group chat on Whatsapp where we keep in touch and that's why you see the team spirit is stronger than like before,” Musa said.
3. Musa not happy with BBC African Footballer of Year nominees
Musa was asked about the absence of Nigerian players in the nominees’ list for the 2018 BBC African Footballer of the Year and the forward said some of his teammates deserve to be there.
“I saw the list and I'm not happy about it because the players in there, they didn't even do what we did at the World Cup, it's politics,” Musa said.
“But we don't have to think about that. As you can see there is a lot of upcoming players and by God's grace they will do well and get their names out there.”
4. Musa and Rohr want more home ground for Super Eagles around the country
While expressing their satisfaction with the stadium facilities in Asaba, Musa and Rohr stated their wish for more home grounds for the Super Eagles around the country.
“I felt very happy when I came here in Asaba to see the facilities. I think we need more of this in each state so that every state can see the Super Eagles play,” Musa said.
Rohr said that he has been pushing for the Super Eagles to play in Abuja and Lagos.
“The pitch now is better than two weeks ago, they are working on it and I told the Governor who came to the training session before we left for South Africa and I appreciate it that it was good work on the pitch,” Rohr said.
“It's better now but it's not like South Africa, it's not like other countries we have better conditions than we have it.
“But I push the officials to do something. We need infrastructure, we need good grass. We cannot play in Abuja and Lagos. We are the only country we cannot play in our capital. It's not a normal situation. I hope now that with the success of qualifying for AFCON, we can play in Abuja, Asaba and Uyo.”
5. Super Eagles miss Victor Moses
While answering a question about Victor Moses, Musa said he and his teammate miss the Chelsea man.
“If Victor Moses wants to come back the door is open to him. Like the coach will always say, he has to prove himself if he wants to come back, the door is open for him and for me I think we miss him very well and we wish he can come back to the team,” Musa said.
6. How Rohr lost his phone in Asaba
Super Eagles boss was asked to give an accurate account of how his phone got missing in Asaba during the Aiteo Cup final at the Stephen Keshi Stadium.
“I lost my phone at the cup final in Asaba a few weeks ago and I never found it again,” Rohr said.
“I bought another, the same type of phone to get back the address and emails. I got almost all of them. But I have forgotten about it, it can happen everywhere, in any country.
“I had it in my pocket but lost it with so many people out celebrating, maybe somebody took it.
My phone and my visit card, it's not a problem I have all my papers and documents, the immigration service will not push me out of the country.”
7. Super Eagles AFCON chances
Rohr played it safe while talking about Super Eagles AFCON 2019 chances.
“I don't say we will win the AFCON, I said we have bigger chances of winning the AFCON than the World Cup because in the AFCON, we only have the African countries,” Rohr said at the press conference.
“I think we have a young team that can improve and if we have good preparations with some players that were missing in the last match. “
8. On the 3-5-2 formation used against South Africa
Rohr revealed that he used the 3-5-2 formation to get defensive solidity against South Africa.
“3-5-2 formation is the same we did against Iceland (at the 2018 FIFA World Cup) in Volgograd, with the same three players we had in the centre back and we had (Ahmed) Musa and Kelechi (Iheanacho) forward,” Rohr said.
“So we had only three days to prepare that's why I opted for this solution. We have to change in midfield and both side.
“But the system was good and when I heard the South Africans said against this well defensive organisation there was no place to score in the second half, we are happy about it.”
9. Mikel Obi in AFCON 2019 plane
Despite not playing in a single AFCON 2019 qualifier, Rohr insisted that Mikel John Obi remains part of his plans ahead of next year’s tourney.
“Mikel was injured, had problems with the knee, he played again and was injured again and he was not available,” Rohr said.
“I am in touch with him and the day he will be fit and ready the door is open for him. But you know they have to play at the club, to show us they are ready, it is the same with the captain like other players.”
10. John Ogu is an important player
Ogu made another start for the Super Eagles against South Africa and when his name came up in the press conference, Rohr gave his thought on the player whom he considers very important to the team.
"John Ogu had the responsibility of replacing Ndidi, he did it very well. I like the player’s disciplined," Rohr said.
“He's tall and Ndidi is tall. We needed tall players against South Africa, He did a good job in South Africa. He’s playing in Israel, it’s not really high level, I hope he can find a bigger club so he can progress. But he's an important player.”
The game comes after Nigeria’s 1-1 draw away at South Africa which guaranteed them a top-two finish in Group E of the AFCON 2019 qualifiers.
The game will be played at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State.
Source: Pulse Sports