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Africa Cup of Nations

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr closes door on new players for Afcon

11:17 IST 22/04/2019
Gernot Rohr
Despite admitting goalkeeping concerns, the Super Eagles boss is unwilling to test new players before the African showpiece

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has insisted he will not bring in new players for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.

The three-time African champions will make a return to the tournament after missing out on the previous two editions in 2015 and 2017.

The 65-year-old gaffer has mostly stuck with the players that went to the World Cup in Russia 2018, where they were eliminated in the group stage.

Rohr admitted concerns with his first-choice goalkeeper Francis Uzoho but he is unwilling to bring in a new stopper.

"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 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 Super Eagles qualified as group leaders during the Afcon qualifiers despite missing two of their most experienced players in John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses who retired after the World Cup last summer.

Although the former Gabon coach acknowledged shortcomings in his young team, he is hoping they can secure the continental title in Egypt.

"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."

Nigeria kick-off their campaign against Burundi on June 22 before they slug it out with Guinea four days later and wrap up their Group B games against Madagascar on June 30.

Cameroon are the reigning champions after winning the title in Gabon two years ago.