This may not be best of time for Super Eagles’ coach ahead of this month’s FIFA window friendly matches following the last minute withdrawal of some key players invited for the games against Cameroon.
As at Monday (May 31, 2021), manager of Nigeria’s senior football team, Gernot Rohr told ESPN that seven of his players have withdrawn thus giving him a major problem of inviting fresh players at the last minute for the proposed two-match encounters with the Africa Cup of Nations’ hosts.
Since the match with Tunisia last October which ended in a draw, the Super Eagles have maintained a five-match unbeaten run which could be under serious threat when they face four-time African champions, Cameroon later this week.
Cameroon has never beaten Nigeria in regulation and extra-time since 27 August 1989 – a run of almost 32 years.
Rohr is said to be afraid of the cancellation of the match against Cameroon because of player withdrawals. Out of the 24 players summoned for the outings in Austria on June 4 and 8, seven players have informed the national team coach of their inability to make the trip due to injuries.
Reports have it that the injured players are Victor Osimhen, Crotone’s Simy Nwankwo, Porto’s Zaidu Sanusi, West Brom’s Semi Ajayi, Fulham’s Ola Aina, Benfica’s Tyronne Ebuehi and Hoffenheim’s Kevin Akpoguma.
Rohr’s hopes of preparing the Super Eagles for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers with this month’s friendlies now hinge on a selected few who are still in England otherwise the Cameroon friendly might be called off.
“I don’t know if they can cancel, I only know that I have a maximum of 18 players. If the players from England, William (Troost-Ekong), Kelechi, Ndidi and Iwobi can come, then maybe we play but I have no substitutes and there is no chance to get other players,” Rohr told ESPN.
“But if they cannot play because they have to go into quarantine, then we cannot make it.
“I think they made this friendly in Austria to give us a good condition for preparation, but I see that it is difficult to motivate the players to come to Europe because some of the players are in Nigeria already. And they have to come back to Europe to play.
“My problem now is that I hope that we will have 18 players to arrive.”
The German coach is yet to lose against Cameroon with the Super Eagles after three matches, but he is lamenting the depleted defence he has to manage even if the game goes as planned.
“We had nine defenders in the list. Six now are out,” he continued.
“They said they had some injuries and the doctors from the clubs said they need to rest because they have some pains. So we got some medical attestations from the teams.
“Ola Aina told me yesterday that his ankle is painful and he cannot make it and the club physio said he cannot play. Then we have (Kevin) Akpoguma, we knew already he is injured and cannot play.
“Victor Osimhen is injured. He sent us an attestation. The meniscus in his knee is painful.
“(Zaidu) Sanusi is injured. He was in Paris to see a doctor, for surgery perhaps but not for the moment. (Tyronne) Ebuehi sent us a message with a medical attestation that he cannot make it. And Semi Ajayi also says he has problems with his back and the Physio says he needs two weeks of rest.
Rohr tried late calls for RB Salzburg’s Samson Tijani and Midjtylland midfielder Frank Onyeka, but both players are also not available.
“I invited the player Tijani from Salzburg who has told me that he was injured in training yesterday… hamstring. And Frank Onyeka from Midjtylland, I called him but he cannot come either,” he said.