Gernot Rohr believes the Super Eagles chances of winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations have reduced because this summer’s tournament is the first time 24 teams will compete for the title.
Nigeria had sewn up qualification with one game to spare and the German coach will use next month’s games against Seychelles and Egypt to prepare his team for the competition.
“2019 is a year of the AFCON and it is a very important year for us because we want to have a good tournament. We want to be in the first three teams to be in the podium,” said Rohr to TV Continental.
“We have to prepare very well for this competition, we qualified with one match to spare so we have the chance to prepare already in the next games against Seychelles and Egypt.
“This big competition in June is the first time we have 24 teams, it will be more difficult to be the winner of this competition but we have good ambitions and we have a young team who want to do well, so let’s prepare to be ready on the 15th of June.”
The last time Nigeria competed at the AFCON was in 2013 and the Super Eagles emerged champions with a local coach in charge, and Rohr had insisted that he is not under pressure to replicate the achievement of Stephen Keshi.
“It is already good to be qualified because Nigeria didn’t qualify for the last two Africa Cup of Nations.
“They went to the World Cup but were eliminated. There is no pressure, we always want to win of course but this is a natural pressure in each game.
“Since the World Cup, we didn’t lose any game, we won most of them. We did very well and the young team without some players who didn’t come after the World Cup tried their best.
“We have very good wingers now who are quick, we have players who are coming from behind who can play in different strategies so we are progressing and we have to show it in the next games,” Rohr concluded.
Rohr is currently in Niger running the rule over the outstanding Flying Eagles players at the U20 AFCON, with a view to a call-up to the Super Eagles for the games in March 2019.