The Squirrels proved a hard nut to crack in the first leg in Uyo over a year ago, but a former Afcon winner believes the German tactician has the resources to lead the Eagles to an away win
Former Nigeria international Christian Chukwu has advised Gernot Rohr to pick only fit and agile players to face the Benin Republic as the Squirrels are a typical West African team tough on the ball.
Nigeria is the bookmaker’s favourites for their upcoming fixture against the Benin Republic. The three-time African champions have suffered only one loss in nine competitive games against their West African neighbours.
The Super Eagles claimed a 2-1 victory the last time the two teams met at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
Victor Osimhen’s first-half penalty cancelled out an early Stephane Sessègnon opener before Samuel Kalu’s spectacular second-half drive settled the encounter in November 2019.
Gernot Rohr’s men have won only one Group L game since then – a 4-2 win in Lesotho – and drawing twice against Sierra Leone to barely claw on to the top spot.
Benin, though, have grown in strength since that loss to Nigeria, winning three and drawing one of their four last matches.
Only one point separates the two teams heading into next week’s clash in Porto Novo, and a win over the Super Eagles will earn the Squirrels a ticket to Cameroon 2022.
But former Super Eagles coach Chukwu is confident Nigeria can beat Benin while warning Rohr to be wary of the West Africans’ toughness on the ball.
“I don’t think there is anything to fear ahead of the AFCON qualifier against the Benin Republic,” Chukwu told the Guardian.
“Nigeria has players that can beat Benin, and all that is needed is for Rohr to pick with the right set of players for the game.
“Because the Eagles will be playing against a West African team, who are tough on the ball, Rohr should pick fit players for the tie.”
After initial fears surrounding players boycotting the crucial March 27 clash, Nigeria’s England-based contingent has reported to the team’s Lagos camp.
Fulham’s Ola Aina, West Brom’s Semi Ajayi, and Watford William Troost-Ekong headline the prominent stars who have made it to the Eko Hotels camp.