2019 AFCON: Nigeria coach rules out new players
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has ruled out bringing in new players to bolster his squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Champions in 2013, the Super Eagles are returning to the tournament after missing back-to-back editions in 2015 and 2017.
Despite admitting that he has goalkeeping concerns – with first-choice Francis Uzoho struggling for regular football this season – Rohr is not ready to call up another goalkeeper.
“We have a little challenge because our young goalkeeper Uzoho has not really played at his club this season,” Rohr told BBC Sport.
“Uzoho made one mistake in the last qualifier [against Seychelles] but we gave him a chance with the youth under-23 and it was good for his confidence.
“Daniel Akpeyi is playing now for a big team in South Africa and doing very well. Our third goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa too is good so we can work harder with them.
“We have a good spirit as a team since the World Cup, so there’s no time to bring in new players,” Rohr said.
The West Africans have struggled to fill the void created by the shock retirement of the country’s most capped player, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in 2015, and the exit of replacement Carl Ikeme.
A lack of experience has been highlighted as a weakness but Rohr, who led Gabon to the last eight of the 2012 Nations Cup on home soil, is focusing on turning his young team into a major force in North Africa this summer.
“We can work on every aspect to improve the team, that is why we have the friendly matches,” he added.
“We qualified without two of our most experienced players in Obi Mikel and Victor Moses.
“I know what pressure is because I have experienced it with Gabon as hosts in 2012 – so this [challenge] is nothing new.
“For the World Cup our president said we could go to the semi-finals but we saw what happened – now in Egypt he says we have to win it.
“We work now to make a great tournament then we take it from there.”
The three-time African champions will play in Group B with Guinea, debutants Madagascar and Burundi at the Nations Cup which will take place from 21 June to 19 July.