Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has admitted that it will be a ‘difficult’ task for his Nigerian team to emerge champion of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as the competition has now been expanded to take 24 participating teams.
The German coach, who had earlier led the Eagles to sealing qualification for the continental championship with a game to spare last year, is however optimistic the West African team can finish in the top three.
”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,” Rohr stated.
”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 Eagles have an inconsequential qualifying fixture against Seychelles and a friendly against Egypt in March and Rohr is hopeful his youthful team make the best use of the games in preparation for the summer championship.
”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.
Nigeria has won the AFCON three times with the most current title success coming in the West Africans’ last participation at the competition in 2013 under the tutelage of late Stephen Keshi.