The Nigerian national team sneaked into the World Cup playoffs after managing a point against Cape Verde on Tuesday
Gernot Rohr has blamed the Super Eagles’ unconvincing displays in recent games on the absence of key players due to injury.
Nigeria qualified for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup playoff rounds after earning a win and a draw on matchday five and six to finish top of Group C.
The Super Eagles delivered an unimpressive display on Friday, needing two penalties to beat Liberia in Tangier, Morocco.
And on Tuesday, an even unconvincing Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw by Cape Verde and were lucky to avoid conceding a late goal to the Blue Sharks that would have denied the West Africans a qualification ticket.
Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi returned to the Eagles starting eleven after a spell with injury. At the same time, former Manchester United loanee Odion Ighalo came back from international retirement to start against Cape Verde.
Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze did not make it off the substitute bench at all in both games after recovering from a lengthy layoff.
And Rohr is convinced that the unavailability of his key men affected the performances of his team. And the German tactician believes that the Super Eagles’ display will improve before the African Cup of Nations in January.
“After this group stage, we can be optimistic. Now we have the time to prepare for the AFCON,” Rohr told the media.
“Some of our players are coming back from injury – [Wilfred] Ndidi, [Samuel] Chukwueze. They were not really in the rhythm of the competition, so let’s give a little time to our players, and the team will be better and better.”
The Super Eagles open their Cameroon 2022/Afcon campaign with a tough-looking tie against Egypt on January 11.
The three-time continental champions take on Sudan four days later before finishing their group campaign with a tie against Guinea-Bissau on the 19th.