Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, has said he was not surprised with the performance of the Seychelles national team in Friday’s final Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON qualifying match against Nigeria.
While the Super Eagles ‘comfortably’ beat the Pirates 0-3 in their own home ground last year, they struggled to get a 3-1 win in Asaba, the Delta State capital on Friday.
Many had predicted a whitewash for the small island country, but the Eagles had to dig deep for victory.
“We knew it will be very difficult because we are facing a new Seychelles team, they started their preparations very early in March and seven new players were added to the team, so the players (Super Eagles) knew that we are to expect a very difficult match,” Rohr stated.
The Super Eagles coach noted that the Seychelles team adopted a game plan to frustrate the Eagles but at the end, they found a way out.
“They made defensively; attacking defence so we tried to come in by the wings and we scored the first goal from the penalty after an individual mistake that can happen. And then in the second half, we scored two nice goals, they did the job, we wanted to win the game and finish on the top of the table which is very important for the FIFA rankings,” the Super Eagles handler said.
While commenting on the tenacity of the Seychelles team, Rohr also suggested that the playing conditions in Asaba also made life more difficult for his team.
The coach revealed that players of the national team were not happy with the playing pitch of the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
The Stephen Keshi stadium is one of the newest in the country having been completed in August 2018 on the eve of the Africa Senior Athletics Championship which is the continent’s biggest track and field event.
However, Rohr in a post-match interview after Friday’s match against Seychelles, complained about the playing conditions for his players.
“The conditions were very difficult because it was very hot and the players are complaining about the condition of the pitch. But they did the job; scored two wonderful goals in the second half against the team of Seychelles who have only come to defend,” the Franco-German tactician stated.
Friday’s game against the Pirates of Seychelles is the second the Super Eagles would be playing in Asaba, having previously been up against the Cranes of Uganda on the same turf.
Rohr, while expressing satisfaction with the outcome of the Seychelles games, indicated that the Super Eagles have effectively begun their preparation for the 2019 AFCON as they are hoping to make a good mark on their return to the biennial tournament.
Since winning the 2013 edition in South Africa under the tutelage of late Stephen Keshi, Nigeria have failed to qualify for the two consecutive editions held afterwards.
“The preparations for the AFCON started already after our game in Johannesburg, because we have qualified in November. Since that time we are already preparing, searching for good players and scouting our actual players and we will have full three weeks of preparations for the AFCON in the beginning of June.
“Everybody… I hope by then would have finished their seasons and it is very important for us that we don’t have any injuries.” Mr Rohr stated.
Goals from Odion Ighalo, Henry Onyekuru and substitute Moses Simon ensured that the Super Eagles cemented their top position in their AFCON qualifying group.
The Super Eagles will be in action again on Tuesday when they face the 2019 AFCON hosts, Egypt, in a high-profile friendly still at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.