Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr has admitted that he faces a ‘positive’ selection headache ahead of today’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-final clash against South Africa at the Cairo International Stadium.
Naijafootballplus.com covered yesterday’s training session at the Shams Sports Complex with all 23 players involved in training. Captain John Mikel Obi is back in training, Jamilu Collins looks ready and Shehu Abdullahi has improved his fitness.
South Africa has never beaten Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations finals, with their two previous meetings – a semi final clash in 2000 in Lagos and group phase encounter in 2004 in Monastir – ending 2-0 and 4-0 respectively in favour of the Super Eagles.
“I have a selection headache after starting this tournament with plenty injuries and illnesses, we had the full 23 players train yesterday and that gives me a selection headache for today’s game,” said Rohr.
South Africa knocked out the host and title favourite Egypt in the Round of 16, Nigeria won the African title in 1980, 1994 and 2013, while South Africa won when they hosted in 1996.
“We saw the South Africa game against Egypt and I am sure they will be full of confidence, for me when you beat the number one tournament favourite then you are favourite yourself. We know them well through the qualifiers, and we are confident especially after our last game.
“We have to adapt because it is hotter and different from Alexandria here in Cairo and we have just one day to adapt, but we will be ready. We have made mistakes in our games against Madagascar and Cameroon but that is part of the game, it’s good that our mistakes do not stem from tactical errors so we must forgive the players because we are all in it together.
“We learnt a lot from the World Cup where we were the youngest team, we are still a young team but we have been better at defending and attacking set pieces. We have improved in this department and against Cameroon we showed a strong mental side, we are more mature now. After the loss to Madagascar, I told my team that the loss was good for us ahead of playing Cameroon and it is the same for today’s game. My team will never be arrogant, we will keep our fighting spirit and humility. We wanted to beat South Africa in Johannesburg but we had two goal incorrectly ruled out.”