Rohr thinking of 2021 AFCON, 2022 World Cup qualifiers

Rohr thinking of 2021 AFCON, 2022 World Cup qualifiers

Nigeria will play an international friendly against Ukraine on Tuesday night, but that is not a matter of importance to coach Gernot Rohr.

The German coach is focusing on assembling a young new squad ahead of the qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Joseph Aribo, Emmanuel Dennis, Maduka Okoye and Joshua Maja were four players handed a debut invitation to the Nigerian senior national team.

With some top players already ruled out for various reasons, Rohr said Tuesday's friendly against Ukraine will give him an opportunity to prepare for the qualifiers, especially with a relatively new and young team.

“This game is a big opportunity for us to begin our build-up towards the 2021 AFCON and the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

"Some of our key players retired from the team after the last AFCON in Egypt and some others are not here owing to injuries and other issues.

"We have some new and young players here so it is a good opportunity to see what they can bring to the team. We hope for a good game against a very solid team playing at home.”

A camp source told that the young guns are however, rearing to go, seeing the situation as an opportunity to win the heart of Coach Rohr and be considered part of the mainstream going forward.

Germany –based goalkeeper Maduka Okoye is in camp to give Francis Uzoho and Ikechukwu Ezenwa a stiff fight for the number one shirt, while usual suspects Olaoluwa Aina, Chidozie Awaziem, Leon Balogun, Jamilu Collins and William Ekong will try to ward off the challenge of Semi Ajayi (listed as defender) and returnee Bryan Idowu at the rear.

In the middle, Oghenekaro Etebo and Alex Iwobi should be ahead of returnee Anderson Esiti and new boy Joseph Aribo. It remains to be seen how Kelechi Iheanacho will fit into the middle equation.

The fore is brimming with youth and vitality, with Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Paul Onuachu and Samuel Kalu all available, alongside new birds Joshua Maja and Emmanuel Dennis.

Also read: AFCON U23 qualifiers: Nigeria in big battle against Sudan