Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr has praised his young charges for never giving up and eventually ending on a high against Africa’s second ranked team, Senegal in a friendly in London on Thursday.
“It is never the result that matters in a friendly match; it is the attitude of the players and what they bring to the game. I am satisfied with our whole attitude and the fact that after going down by a goal, we were mentally strong enough to come back and eventually ended the match on a high.
“You must also consider that we were missing key players like Carl (Ikeme), (Victor) Moses and the captain (Mikel John Obi). We put out a couple of players who had not featured for us before, like (Olanrewaju) Kayode and (Isaac) Success.
“We had to deal with goalkeeping issue and Daniel (Akpeyi) did not have any training with the team. (Ikechukwu) Ezenwa came on the eve of the match and also did not train. It was difficult planning for the game but I am satisfied with what we came up with and how we approached the game.”
The Franco-German, who has won three of four matches with the three –time African champions, drawing the other, specially applauded the output of the defenders as well as Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho in the attack.
“It is a fact that Leon (Balogun), (William) Ekong and Elderson (Echiejile) had not been playing regularly in their clubs, and even Kenneth (Omeruo) who had been active was played in a different role. (Ahmed) Musa and Kelechi (Iheanacho) had also not been playing much. So, it was tough for them at the start but they picked up well and showed good character.
“Our captain (Ogenyi Onazi) went off injured after only 20 minutes. We had to choose between (John) Ogu and (Oghenekaro) Etebo, we opted for Ogu because of the stature of the Senegalese and I think he did well. Now, we know we have some strength-in-depth and that is very good for planning.
“I am also delighted with the confidence level of Wilfred (Ndidi).”
Looking ahead to Monday’s game against the Etalons, Rohr told thenff.com: “It is a different game altogether. I coached them before coming to Nigeria and I know they are not so much physical but a very technical team.
“You think of players like Bertrand Traore (who is with Chelsea FC of England but loaned to Ajax Amsterdam) and also Nakoulma who was impressive at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, as well as Alain Traore, (Aristide) Bance and the young goalkeeper (Herve Koffi).
“It is going to be an interesting match but we will be at our best.”