Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr has revealed how he worked with his crew to come about the 30-man provisional squad for the FIFA 2018 World Cup.
The squad, which consists mostly of players that helped Nigeria seal qualification for their 6th World Cup appearance and only two new invitees, has been a subject of criticism in some quarters.
But the Franco-German technician has hinted that it was difficult arriving at the number, as over 50 worthy Nigerian players made the original list that had to be trimmed down to 30.
Speaking to reporters on Friday in a media briefing in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State where the Eagles are currently camping ahead of Monday’s friendly with DR Congo, Rohr said:
“The list was not of my own making alone. I have backroom staff, including the medical team and I gathered all of them in my house. We looked at the players one by one and asked what qualities they have, and how they will complement the other players.
“Of course I looked first at the players who were with us for the qualifiers but then I also looked at other players who have done well for their clubs. That’s why you see players like Junior Lokosa who is doing very well in the Nigerian league and Simy Nwakwo who had an excellent season in Italy.”
The Nigeria boss also explained why former Golden Eaglets star, Kelechi Nwakali will not go with the team to the World Cup.
The Arsenal youngster dazzled during Super Eagles B’s friendly game with Atletico Madrid last Tuesday, but Rohr says it was already too late for the player to make the squad.
“Nwakali is a good player,” the coach admitted.
“I knew him before now and he was in my list of 35 players. We had a team of 50 players which we pruned down to 35 and then 30. By the time he played against Atletico, we had already submitted the 30-man list on May 14 and the game against Atletico was on May 22 so it was too late to include him.
“He’s in my plans and definitely he will be invited after the World Cup.”
There however remains more work to do for Rohr in terms of team selection, as the 30-man list will again be trimmed down to a final 23-man list.
Meanwhile, the Super Eagles will battle the Leopards of DR Congo at the Adokiye Amasimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt on Monday.
The team are also billed to play England in Wembley on June 2 and then Czech Republic on June 6 in Austria, before jetting out to Russia where they face Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in the group stages of the World Cup finals.
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