Super Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr is optimistic of a better performance in Nigeria’s second game of the on-going African Cup of Nations against Guinea. The Eagles struggled to beat Burundi 1-0, but the team attributed the stuttering performance to the sickness suffered by key players just before the opening Group B fixture played at the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria on Saturday.
The 1-0 victory has placed Nigeria on top of the Group B table as Guinea and Madagascar played out a 2-2 draw in the second game of the group.At the post match conference on Saturday, Rohr said he knew the match against Burundi would be difficult for his players, as half of the team was down with fever.
“We could not make a better performance because the team of Burundi was well organised, especially in the first half and we did not find our rhythm.”I think we worked better in the second half because it took us a long time to come into the match, just as in the first half where we didn’t have opportunities to score. We knew that Burundi was unbeaten during the qualifiers.”
He added: “In our group, I think all the matches will be tough because these teams like home-based teams don’t have anything to lose. Perhaps, they know if they could organise themselves well, they will make it difficult for us.”Our plan was to make them tire with our passes which we missed in the first half. But in the second half, it worked better. Then we had to bring in Musa and Ighalo, who could not come in at the beginning of the match, as they were sick just like Samuel Kalu.
“In our preparation, we had big problems because half of the team had virus. In the last session, we lost two players, Jamiu Collins and Samuel Kalu, and that is why we had to struggle so much to win the game.
“Credit must also go to my colleague (Burundi coach), who did a good job for his side,” he said.On Akpeyi’s performance, Rohr said the goalkeeper was the best during the training sessions, adding that he expects a better performance in the next game.
“The goalkeeper did not concede a goal, which is a good one for him and for the team. He stopped Burundi in the first half from a wonderful opportunity. If you remembered, the Burundi striker was alone and he disturbed him from scoring. In this situation, he was really good.
“Then we know sometimes he also makes mistakes like what happened, especially when he had the ball and he wanted to quickly play it. I didn’t like it but I believe he will try to make it better next time.” Rohr said Akpeyi got the number one shirt because “in the last three weeks, he was really so good during the training sessions and that is why today he is our number goalkeeper.”Nigeria’s next match is against Guinea at the Alexandria Stadium on Wednesday.