SUPER Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr has been handed a tough opening fixture in next year’s African Cup of Nations after Nigeria was drawn alongside seven times champions Egypt in Group D against who the team will play its opening match.
Yesterday, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) concluded the draw for the 2022 African Cup of Nations in Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital. Nigeria was drawn alongside Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau, with the Eagles set to play their opener against the Pharoahs on January 11.
Nigeria then faces Sudan on January 15 before playing their final game against Guinea-Bissau on January 19. Mr Rohr knows the tournament is his last opportunity to lead Nigeria to glory as since being appointed in 2016, he is yet to win any trophy despite leading the team to two major tournaments with a game to spare.
With Nigeria having being knocked out of the 2018 World Cup in the group stages and only managing a third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, if Mr Rohr does not deliver this time around, calls for his dismissal will grow louder. Nigeria starts her campaign at the Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua, in what is expected to be a difficult opening match,
On paper, Nigeria and Egypt will compete for the first two places but Sudan will be tricky opposition after they denied South Africa a place in the tournament. With the array of talents in the Super Eagles squad, Mr Rohr is expected to at least secure a place in the final of next year’s African Nations Cup.
Egyptian coach Hossam El-Badry, said: ” Our group is quite balanced and not easy due to the improvement of all these teams, who also have great players. I have great confidence in God and the capabilities of the players to overcome this group and perform well to satisfy the aspirations of the Egyptian fans.”
He warned, however, that qualification would not be a straightforward task for the Pharaohs with Nigeria, Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau in their group. Only the top two teams are guaranteed to make it out of a group, with the third placed team having an outside chance of qualifying for the group stages.