SUPER Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr said he remains positive about the future of Nigerian football despite his team crashing out of the African Cup of Nations over the weekend with it lost 1-2 to the Desert Foxes of Algeria.
Eliminated by an injury time goal, Nigeria now has to face Tunisia in the third place play-off to determine which team goes home with the bronze medal. Mr Rohr said the loss was tough to digest for his players but stressed that the current crop of Super Eagles had the potential to become very good given time.
He added: “Our team is progressing well after the World Cup which wasn’t bad and we’ve started work with a rejuvenated team. This team has a future, I’m still under contract for another year and we’ll see what happens after that.
“We will draw lessons after the third-place match. We have a very young team, we’re making progress and perhaps we lacked a bit of clear-sightedness against Algeria but we’re moving forward.”
Tomorrow in the third-place play-off taking place at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Mr Rohr could give starting shorts to youngsters like Henry Onyekuru, Samuel Kalu and Victor Osimhen. He praised the resilience shown by his side throughout the tournament, as they responded to a shock loss to Madagascar by toppling defending champions Cameroon and beating South Africa before coming from behind against Algeria.
Mr Rohr added: “We have to work much more as our midfield is the youngest one. Ndidi, Iwobi and Etebo have to learn tactically and they have to make better communication but I think with time they’ll be very good.
“I congratulate my players for a big fight against this very good team. It was a big fight until the last minute.
“It was a wonderful match but we lost it so we are not happy. We scored an own goal which was unlucky but we came back like throughout the tournament when there was something difficult against us but a wonderful free-kick made the difference.”
Mr Rohr also praised the work done by Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi, who took over last year after the Desert Foxes finished bottom of their 2018 World Cup qualifying group. He added that Algeria have made strides both tactically and technically and it is going to be very tight with Senegal but Algeria have all the weapons to win the tournament.