Kelechi Iheanacho of Nigeria (C) and Javier Mascherano of Argentina (R) in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group D preliminary round soccer match between Nigeria and Argentina in St.Petersburg, Russia, 26 June 2018.
Monday Jun 10, 2019. 10:00
Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr has revealed that the decision to drop Semi Ajayi and Kelechi Iheanacho from his final Africa Cup of Nations squad was taken prior to the friendly match against Zimbabwe on Saturday.
The German tacitican revealed that he had been monitoring the performance of Nigerian players before they arrived for their camp in Asaba, adding that it was difficult for him to rate the players because of the rainy conditions in the goalless draw with the Warriors.
''You cannot judge from one game in these conditions. We already have our opinion before the match because we observed them throughout the season and we saw what they did and also all week in the training sessions,” Rohr explained after the friendly.
''We had seven training sessions to see the fitness, confidence of the players. It's not this match alone that will give us a decision on the two players we have to drop.''
No less than seven offensive players were given a run-out against Zimbabwe, but Rohr has stressed that won't be the case at the Africa Cup of Nations.
''You see that we played with seven strikers, all the strikers who deserve to play. We started with three strikers, the others came in,” said Rohr.
''Normally in a match you cannot bring so many strikers. We played with a lot of offensive players.
''We have Chukwueze, Kalu, Henry, Osimhen, Paul, Simon also. The choice of dropping two players is really difficult for me.”
Nigeria’s 23-man AFCON squad:
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Katsina United); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa).
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany).
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Middlesbrough FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia); Victor Osimhen (Royal Charleroi SC, Belgium); Moses Simon (Levante FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua, China); Alexander Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Paul Onuachu (FC Midtjyland, Denmark); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain).