The 14th edition of the continental cadet championship kicks off in another two weeks, with the five-time world champions expected to give a good account of themselves
Gernot Rohr believes Algeria, Congo, and Tanzania will provide stiff challenges to Nigeria at the U-17 Afcon championship in Morocco, and the Franco-German tactician has warned the Golden Eaglets not to take their opponents for granted.
In the draw ceremony held at the Monotel Dar El Barka Hotel in Nouakchott, Mauritania, the Nigerian national U-17 team were placed in a favourable Group B alongside the North, Central, and East African teams.
None of these three teams has ever won the FIFA U-17 World Cup or the CAF U-17 Championship, but the Golden Eaglets have five world titles of the former and two CAF trophies.
With the Fatai Amoo-tutored side avoiding big wigs in host nation Morocco, perennial foes Cameroon, and West Africa regional champions Ivory Coast, complacency must be avoided to forestall any disastrous outing, says Rohr.
“It’s not an easy group,” warned the former Gabon coach, as per VON, when he visited the team’s training camp in Abuja.
“Algeria and Congo have very strong teams, while Tanzania are outsiders.
“So, you have to be careful because there are no small teams and all teams are well prepared.”
Rohr further encouraged the Golden Eaglets stars to give their best at the competition as he would be open to inviting any breakout talent directly to the Super Eagles after that.
The former Girondins Bordeaux manager pointed out the example of Napoli forward Victor Osimhen, whom he called up to the senior team a year after leading the Eaglets to the world title in 2015.
“In my first match against Tanzania in Uyo, I took one U-17 player in 2016. You know who? Victor Osimhen” added Rohr.
“He was coming from the U-17 team. So, you boys are already close (to Super Eagles).”
The Africa U-17 Cup of Nations, Morocco 2021, begins on March 13 and runs through to the 31st.
Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Mali, and Ghana are the most successful nations in the championship, with two titles each.