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Nigeria coach steps up mind games and describes Bafana as 'the best' in their Afcon group

07 June 2017 - 14:02 By Nick Said

Nigeria have been talking up the quality of South Africa ahead of their African Nations Cup qualifier in Uyo on Saturday‚ with German coach Gernot Rohr describing Bafana Bafana as “the best team in the group”.

Nigeria's new head coach German Gernot Rohr (L) poses with his deputy coach Salisu Yusuf during the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualification football match between Nigeria and Tanzania in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on September 3, 2016.
Nigeria's new head coach German Gernot Rohr (L) poses with his deputy coach Salisu Yusuf during the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualification football match between Nigeria and Tanzania in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on September 3, 2016.
Image: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

Rohr has been with the team since August last year and despite having already led the side in qualifiers against Algeria and Zambia‚ and a friendly with Senegal in March‚ says this will be his toughest test yet.

“They are the strongest opponent I will face so far as [Super] Eagles coach because they have not lost a match over a long time‚” Rohr told reporters.

“I am also aware that they stopped Nigeria from getting to the Afcon in 2015‚ and that this match is very important to Nigeria.

“The game will be difficult. It will be a big challenge to beat the South Africans.

"It will be difficult with the young players that we have. Our captain‚ [John] Obi Mikel and our first choice goalkeeper [Carl Ikeme] are out of the match [with injury]‚” he added.

Aside from the valuable three points on offer in a bid to reach the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon‚ Rohr says they have a more personal reason for wanting to do well – to honour former coach Stephen Keshi‚ who passed away exactly a year ago today.

"We will dedicate our win over South Africa to Keshi to mark the one year of his death. The boys will play this game with all their might to ensure we get a win in memory of the former coach of Super Eagles‚" Rohr said.

"Keshi was a committed person as a player‚ I played against him in the French league while he was with Strasbourg. He was a good leader and good coach. We will play for him."

Meanwhile‚ Turkey based midfielder Ogenyi Onazi says he will be spurred on by the memory of the 2-2 draw in Uyo in 2014 that ended his side’s chances of going to the Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea the following year.

“We remember that it was in this stadium that we missed the opportunity to play in Afcon 2015‚ when we drew with South Africa. It is still in our hearts‚ we have not forgotten it‚” the Trabzonspor star said.

“Though it is not a grudge match‚ we are approaching it with all seriousness. We expect to win the game. It is not going to be a do-or-die affair‚ but we are here to make up for the past.”

 - TMG Digital/TMG Sport

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