Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is currently in his home country Germany scouring the Bundesliga for talent as he aims to arrive in Russia for next year’s World Cup with a quality squad.
The Super Eagles qualified for their sixth World Cup after winning four of their six games to sit atop Group B, which housed African champions Cameroon, Zambia and Algeria.
Rohr, who guided Nigeria to a shock 4-2 victory over football superpowers Argentina in a friendly encounter in Krasnodar, Russia, on November 14, has since said the players who did not play any part during the qualifiers will get their opportunities to break into the World Cup squad.
A Punch correspondent learnt that the 64-year-old has been encouraged to revive his interest in the players he had pencilled in for the World Cup qualifiers but could not get them – after succeeding in convincing Russian-born Brian Idowu to switch his international allegiance to Nigeria after a long battle.
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In Russia Reports in the German media on Monday said Rohr watched the Bundesliga clash between Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena in which German-born Nigerian centre-back Kevin Akpoguma played the 90 minutes for the home side (Hoffenheim).
It was also learnt that Rohr is monitoring Hannover 96 German-born Nigerian forward Noah Sarenren-Bazee’s situation. The attacker is set to return to action after six months on the treatment table due to various problems with his thigh.
Sarenren-Bazee, who has a German mother, is eligible to represent Nigeria because of his Nigerian father, honoured Rohr’s invitation to feature in the March 2017 friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso but the 21-year-old was forced to withdraw from the games reportedly due to injury.
Rohr was working towards persuading Akpoguma, who has represented Germany at U16, U17, U18, U19, U20 and U21 levels, before the 22-year-old suffered a career-threatening injury.
With the combative defender having started three successive Bundesliga games since he was promoted to Die Kraichgauer’s first team, Rohr has ramped up his interest in the player. The former Gabon coach told German radio SWR on Monday that he was interested in Akpoguma.
He said, “I watched him play for Hoffenheim against Frankfurt on Saturday. Kevin is an excellent match for the players we are on the lookout for. “But he’ll have to decide soon whether he wants to wear the colours of Nigeria and I’ll call him in the next few days.’’
Akpoguma, who was a guest on SWR TV, said, “That (Nigeria’s interest) honours me, of course, but I’m German, I was born here, and then I should play for Germany too.”