Super Eagles’ Coach, Gernot Rohr says he has been vindicated in his decision to take Victor Osimhen to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in the wake of his recent performances for the Super Eagles, reports africanfootball.com.
The Lille striker struck twice on Sunday as Nigeria won 4-2 in their 2021 qualifier in Lesotho, with Rohr saying the decision to take the then lesser-known Osimhen over the more experienced Kelechi Iheanacho had paid off.
It seems almost inconceivable now, but prior to the tournament Rohr was criticised in many quarters for the move, but he says he was looking for a long-term successor to the retiring Odion Ighalo.
“We had the best goal scorer in the AFCON (Ighalo), he wanted to retire and we had to find a solution,” Rohr said.
“When I took Osimhen to the AFCON as part of the 23-man list, a lot of you (the media) were very critical, they asked why I didn’t take Kelechi for example.
“He learned a lot in the AFCON, watching, playing in the last match, seeing this very good goal scorer Ighalo, seeing (Ahmed) Musa, and now he is progressing.
“He’s in a good club, Lille in France and scoring a lot of goals, confidence is there and this good understanding with the other players is good for a center forward.”
On the game against Lesotho, Rohr said the hosts were not as easy as the scoreline showed, adding that the Eagles had to fight hard for their win.
The hosts raced into an early lead through Nkoto Masoabi’s 11th-minute strike before the Super Eagles rallied back through goals from Alex Iwobi, Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen who netted a brace.
Rohr praised the Crocodiles for their resolute performance against the Eagles.
“I want to thank Lesotho people for their hospitality. We know it will be difficult to play here [Maseru], Lesotho gave us a lot of troubles,” Rohr said.
“We are happy with the win. It put us in a good position to qualify for the competition.”
Meanwhile, Super Eagles Captain, Ahmed Musa has pleaded with the senior national team coaches to continue to give young players a chance to show what they can do for the country.
Musa, who recently returned after a two-month injury spell, came on as a second-half substitute in both games against Benin Republic and Lesotho.
The former Kano Pillars winger urged Coach Rohr to keep faith with youngsters who are in good form.
“It is about time we have a new crop of players for the national team,” Musa said.
“The young players are coming up and we have to give them a chance. Soon maybe Ahmed Musa may not want to continue playing anymore and we have to groom a new set of players to over from those that are retiring.”
Musa, who has been with the national team for a decade, made his debut at 17 and has bagged 15 goals in 88 games for the Eagles.