Alexander Iwobi (L) with Gernot Rohr, head coach of Nigeria
Sunday Jul 14, 2019. 09:00
Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr has said that he expects Algeria to be a far tougher proposition for his side compared to their recent meetings in World Cup qualifiers.
The Super Eagles initially took four points off the Fennec Foxes in the qualification tournament for Russia 2018 (later revised to three each after Nigeria had fielded an ineligible player in a 1-1 draw in Constantine), and the teams will renew hostilities when they meet in the second semifinal at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo tonight.
Rohr says he has been impressed with the progress made by Algeria since they were taken over by his counterpart Djamel Belmadi just under a year ago.
"He's done a very professional job. They were shaky at the time. We beat them 3-1 (in Uyo) and they made lots of individual errors and defensives mistakes that made it easier for us to win. They were also fragile in the draw," Rohr told reporters Saturday.
"Now I see a solid Algeria side with a good balance between attack and defence. They're still physical but they have come on since and it will be a much harder match than in World Cup qualifying."
The German tactician added, "As coach you're always optimistic. We know they're a good side but we have a strong team too. We can reasonably hope to win based on our last two performances but we're wary because of our opponents.
"We still have things to improve, for example if we have chances to score a second goal we need to be more clinical. They've been more impressive than us on the whole so far."
Rohr also opined that having an extra day’s rest compared to Algeria – who went into extra time and penalties to overcome Ivory Coast in their quarterfinal – won’t have a major effect on the match.
"To have one day more to recover could in theory be an advantage but practically speaking I don't think so. We were in the same position against Madagascar, we had two days extra but we lost the match," he said.
"All teams are prepared to recover quickly. They all play at good clubs and have good physical trainers too. I think the fatigue soon goes."