Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr says it was not easy dropping more experienced players from the Super Eagles ahead of the FIFA World Cup which kicks off on Thursday in Moscow, Russia.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles are the youngest team on parade at the World Cup with an average age of 21.
But speaking on this scenario in an exclusive interview with top Spanish sporting magazine MARCA, Rohr said selecting young talent was aimed at not only increasing the passion and fighting spirit of the Super Eagles, but also to prepare for the future.
The youth of this team is a challenge for the future, starting with this World Cup. It is an important scenario to learn, grow and mature. Being the youngest means losing experience and the possibility of making mistakes, but the enthusiasm and energy that young people have can compensate for it.
Rohr said although the older generation of players had made sacrifices fir the team, it was now important to build a solid foundation as the current crop of players still had many years left in them and have not peaked.
“We must respect what those players have done for the country and let them enjoy it. The plan is to prepare the team for the future. Nigeria has not played two African Cups. You need to change and classify us again. It is important that the atmosphere of the team is calm, without problems, disputes or egos. Once a good environment has been created we need to continue along that same line.”
Nigeria has been grouped against two-time champions Argentina, 1998 semi-finalists Croatia and debutants Iceland.
Rohr said the Super Eagles would take each game at a time.
“Iceland and Croatia have the same dream of passing the group stage and Argentina is one of the favorites for the title. It is not easy to differentiate these teams by words, the results will.
Our goal is to go through the group stage and then go match by match until the final. I do not think it’s good to raise so many expectations, it creates unnecessary pressure. We must be realistic.”