Another win on matchday two would put the Nigerian national football team in the driving seat on the road to Qatar 2022, but it won’t come easy against their biggest rivals in the group
After guiding the Super Eagles to a fine 2-0 triumph over Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Friday, head coach Gernot Rohr is already concerned about the team’s next group match against Cape Verde Islands.
Two expertly dispatched first-half strikes from Kelechi Iheanacho secured all the three points at stake for the three-time African champions against the Lone Star in the first qualifying game for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
However, nine members of the squad, including the man of the match Iheanacho and MVP Alex Iwobi, will not be joining the trip to Cape Verde due to the UK’s travel restrictions.
Rohr will have to present an almost entirely different team against stiffer oppositions on Tuesday, with Bologna’s Kingsley Michael and Malmo’s Innocent Bonnke in line to make their international debut.
Add that to the struggles of playing on the synthetic pitch of the Municipal Adérito Sena Stadium in Mindelo, and the Super Eagles no longer appear as big a favourite against the Blue Sharks as the 43 spaces between them on the FIFA ranking suggest.
Rohr is worried that the enormity of the challenge ahead could overwhelm his charges.
“We have to build another defence, another midfield,” the German gaffer said after the Liberia tie.
“The goalscorer Kelechi will leave, so it will not be easy. It’s a challenge for the staff and the players, but we have to show our solidarity.
“We have to manage this situation, and I am believing that our team is able to bring another good performance even if it’s more difficult than the game today.”
Ranked 77th in the world, Cape Verde earned a decent 1-1 draw away to the Central African Republic on matchday one.
The Blue Sharks would take control of Group C with their first win of the campaign over the Super Eagles.