Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr has refused to pick his team among the favourites to win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations title in Egypt believes they can make it to the semi-final stage of the competition.
The three-time champions will make a return to the AFCON finals after missing the last two editions of the competition in 2015 and 2017.
The West Africans have a lot of talented players in their ranks with the likes of Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo, Wilfred Ndidi and Ahmed Musa expected to make big impact in Egypt 2019.
Rohr, who was once in charge of Gabon and Niger national teams has however lowered expectations ahead of the competition.
“If we have good preparation in good conditions, Nigeria must aim for the semi-finals of AFCON 2019. We have a very young team that can do well,” Rohr stated in an interview with CAF’s website.
Rohr charges will face Seychelles in their last 2019 AFCON qualifying fixture later this month at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.
The Germans last week released a 23-man list for the game with captain John Mikel Obi omitted again despite his impressive form for English Championship club Middlesbrough.
Mikel, 31, has not make an appearance for the Super Eagles since their exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia but Rohr insists the former Chelsea midfielder still has a future in the team.
“He has arrived in Middlesbrough recently. He told me he was not ready and needs to work after his knee injury in China. He did not play all winter either. He was not ruled out for the AFCON but could not make that match in Asaba. We will see for the future.” he added.
Rohr also provides update on the Victor Moses who retired from international football after the World Cup.
“I was against his international retirement and, if he changed his mind, he must tell me but I have no information about it. We’ll see.” he said.
The former Bordeaux of France gaffer omitted Leicester City’s forward Kelechi Iheanacho from his latest squad for the game Seychelles and the friendly clash against Egypt.
Iheanacho has struggled for regular playing time at Leicester City this season.
He admitted that the former Manchester City player is still part of the team but warned players who don’t play regularly for their clubs risk missing out on a place in the final AFCON squad.
“Kelechi needs to play with his club. He also needs to take advantage of the international break to show his qualities to his new coach. I give him time but there is danger for the CAN for those who do not play regularly in their club. The final list for the AFCON far from being made for anyone,” he declared.
One surprise name on the list for the Seychelles and Egypt games is Enyimba defender Valentine Ozornwafor who shone for the Flying Eagles at the 2019 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Niger.
“I expect this player to bring his freshness, his physical strength (1m97) and technical quality. It also offers us an additional option since we have a lot of right sided defenders. I saw him in Niger at the AFCON and I like his aerial game,” he added.