Three weeks from now, Nigeria will meet South Africa for the second time in Group E of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers. This time, on November 17th, the venue will be the First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg. Nigeria lost to South Africa at home on Match Day One. However, things have changed since then and the Super Eagles are now at the top of the table, having all but qualified for Cameroon.
Coach Rohr has praised his players after three straight wins. Talking to the press ahead of the next match, Rohr has talked about why Nigeria were defeated on Match Day One. He has listed two main reasons. The first thing was the absence of some players such as Odion Ighalo, Leon Balogun, Victor Moses and the captain, John Obi Mikel. The second reason was the way Nigeria defended and had allowed the South Africans to catch them on the counter, which is something the Eagles will try not to allow in the upcoming qualifier.
Three of the four aforementioned players will without a doubt be on the preliminary call-up list for the match in South Africa. Victor Moses, of course, won’t be as he has since retired from international duties. Coach Rohr has admitted that he was surprised by the player’s decision at the time. Victor Moses was 27 years old when he decided to quit the Super Eagles, after 38 caps and 12 goals scored. He said he was retiring in order to concentrate on his club football and his family. As it happens, he has struggled to find playing time this year and has so far started only one game for Chelsea. He didn’t make the 18-man squad twice before being in the team for the game against Bate Borisov in the Europa League this week. Rohr mentioned that he’s tried to replace Moses with Samuel Kalu out of Bordeaux who is so far doing well but still has to make that position his own.
The Coach has promised he would field his strongest team available against South Africa and that he would announce the 23-man squad soon. Of course, one of the players who will definitely not be playing is the Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi. He picked up a yellow card in the second game against Libya and as it’s his second, he will have to serve out a one-game suspension before returning to the squad. Otherwise, as one of the best and most consistent players on the team, he would have been one of the first ones to be called up.
Both Coach Rohr and the players are determined to pay South Africa back for the defeat on Match Day One and with the form they are in right now, it would have to be a brave person who would bet against them.