Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has stoutly defend the choice of his 25-man provisional teal list for the forthcoming Total CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Egypt 2019, insisting that addition of captain Mikel Obi was strategic towards a successful outing for the team.
There have been pockets of criticisms with the latest being that of erstwhile Super Eagles coach, Dutchman Jo Bonfrere over the inclusion of the ‘absentee’ Mikel who last played for the Super Eagles since 26th June 2018 in the 2-1 loss to Argentina at Russia 2018 World Cup.
“I really don’t understand the reason he (Mikel) was invited but as coach, I won’t invite a player who is not injured and chose not to be part of the qualifiers,” the 72-year-old Bonfrere who guided Nigeria to a historic Soccer Gold medal at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Football Tournament was quoted as saying.
But speaking with newsmen, Rohr, the former Bayern Munich defender was adamant over his choices.
“Mikel is very fit and motivated and his experience and talent can help us,” noted Rohr who would be 66 on 28th June- two days before Nigeria’s last Group B match against Madagascar at the AFCON.
The German coach equally defended the inclusion of striker Kelechi Iheanacho whose form has dipped in recent months with Leicester City in the English Premier League, adding being on the list only offers the players the opportunity to fight for a place in the final 23-man list for the AFCON.
“Kelechi is a left footed striker who can score goals and I guess that he wants to show to everybody that he hasn’t lost his qualities. But we are 25 and only 23 can make it,” stated Rohr.
The Super Eagles are drawn in an interesting Group B for Egypt 2019 along with Guinea and the duo of Madagascar and Burundi who would be making their debut at the AFCON, Nigeria would kick off the tournament on 22nd June against Burundi at the Alexandria Stadium where they would also take on Guinea and Madagascar respectively on 27th June and 30th June.
“Our target is to win the first match and then we will see,” noted Rohr.