Nigeria’s last match in the Gabon 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifying series against Tanzania will give the Super Eagles’ new coach, Gernot Rohr, the chance to choose the players fit for the Russia 2018 qualifier against Zambia in October.
Rohr recently named a 23-man squad for the game against Zambia, which the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) believes will set the tone for the country’s march to the 2018 championship.
Speaking at the Corinthians Stadium in Sao Paolo after Nigeria’s 0-2 loss to Germany in the semifinal of the Rio 2016 Olympics men’s football event, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, acknowledged the enormity of the task before the Super Eagles in the Russia 2018 qualifying series, adding, however, that Nigeria has the materials to pick the ticket.
The Super Eagles are grouped alongside Cameroun, Algeria and Zambia in the qualifying series.
Pinnick said the NFF was doing everything possible to aid the Eagles’ passage to Russia, adding that ensuring the availability of the country’s best players for the AFCON qualifier against Tanzania is one of the ways it is preparing for the first match against Zambia.
“We know how Nigerians feel about their football and we are doing everything possible to ensure that we qualify for the World Cup despite all odds.
“All the teams in our group are tough and could be dangerous if we did not do our home work well, and we working to ensure that nothing stops us from qualifying for the Russia 2018 World Cup,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NFF has approved the 23-man list released by Rohr for next month’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania. The match will take place at the Nest of Champions Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on September 3.
Nigeria is already out of the race for the 2017 AFCON to be hosted by Gabon.
Speaking yesterday, NFF Secretary General, Mohammed Sanusi, said with the ouster of the Super Eagles, Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets from next year’s African championships, the football house was taking drastic measures to organise a programme that will enable the Eagles qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
He explained that the 23 players named by Rohr would be strictly screened to ensure the players measured up to the challenges ahead.
Sanusi also said there was no pressure on Rohr ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, stressing that all hands were on deck to put the team on the right track.
He also stated that the NFF were not happy with the Golden Eagles’ failure to qualify for the African U-17 championship next year, which eventually ruled out the team from defending the U-17 World Cup.
“The 23-man list released by the Eagles new foreign coach has been approved by the NFF. We have viewed the list and agreed that the players are good enough to contend for shirt in the national team. The federation is closely watching the Eagles to forestall any form of embarrassment when the World Cup qualifiers kicks off,” he said.