The weather was exceedingly warm on Mahe Island on Thursday morning as Coach Gernot Rohr, alongside his assistants, took his charges through their paces at the Stade Linite ahead of Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying encounter with the Pirates of Seychelles.
After the one –hour training session, attended by all 21 players available for the match, the Franco-German tactician told thenff.com that players and officials are very much aware of the crucial nature of Saturday evening’s game to Nigeria’s presence at African football’s major house party next year summer.
“Everyone realizes the importance of this match. We are currently number three in our group and that position does not befit Super Eagles of Nigeria. It is not good for us because it is outside the qualification range.
“The players know this. They know that on Saturday they have to show character to put our campaign back on track with a good result.”
Seychelles is a leading tourist destination with planeloads of fun seekers trooping in on daily basis to spend good time relaxing on any of the major islands in the 115 islands that make up the archipelago. But Rohr made it clear his boys are not vacationers looking for relaxation.
“We are not here on vacation. We are here for serious business.
“We have a young, ambitious team and Nigeria has a better pedigree in the game of football than Seychelles. But we must not underrate them in any way or take things for granted.
“The World Cup is behind us now, but we must allow the lessons we learned in Russia to make us better and more efficient in our approach. The Cup of Nations is the focus now and we must get a good result on Saturday to get our campaign back, and then we can now look ahead with determination to win the remaining matches in our group to qualify easily for the championship.”
Saturday’s Group E tie, which is one of the Matchday 2 fixtures happening across the African continent, will start at 4.30pm Seychelles time (1.30pm Nigeria time) at the 10,000 –capacity Stade Linite in Victoria on Mahe Island.