Atlanta Olympic gold medalist, Dosu Joseph in this interview with Augustine Akhilomen of NK Media bares his mind on Super Eagles 2022 AFCON chances, Rohr’s strikers’ headache, and others…Excerpt
How will you describe the Super Eagles’ performance in the just concluded 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers?
It was good to see the Super Eagles qualify for the bi-annual tournament with an unbeaten record. I think the general performance of the team was splendid going by how they played against Benin, Sierra Leone, and Lesotho. It is a sign that the team has improved very well.
Do you think the Super Eagles are one of the favorites to lift the AFCON trophy based on their unbeaten record in the qualifying campaign?
Being unbeaten in the qualifying campaign doesn’t make the team favourite for any giving competition because the least team you expected may just play the spoiler at the main tournament. On paper, Nigeria looks like a team capable of winning the tournament but other teams won’t just come to make the numbers.
Will it be right to say Rohr has done a good job with the current crop of talented players at his disposal?
The truth is that Gernot Rohr has assembled a good team, in fact, a young team full of talents. I am impressed with the way he has handled the team and I believe the players are glad about his impact as well. His injection of young talents in the Super Eagles have made the team stronger in all ramification regardless of where they ply their football trade in Europe.
Before the final two qualifying matches against Benin and Lesotho, were you worried that the team may not qualify after some clubs in Europe decided not to release some of the Super Eagles players?
At one point I was feeling worried because it was at the crucial stages of the campaign where the team must pick a draw against Benin and then beat Lesotho in Lagos to seal qualification. That was the permutations. Besides, I felt more worried because the tendency of the team playing with the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) players to make up for the numbers was getting glaring. But I am glad that the team scaled through the hurdle.
One major headache for the technical crew at the moment will be the selection of his strikers for the AFCON tournament and the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers after the likes of Simy Nwankwo, Terem Moffi, Sadiq Umar, and Paul Onuachu are painting Europe with goals. Do you think it will be wise for Rohr to continue with the striker force of Victor Osimhen and Kelechi Iheanacho?
Wow…that’s an interesting question considering the fact that Rohr can’t select all the strikers for any major tournament. It is a piece of good music to the ears of any coach to know that his strikers are painting Europe with goals. And at the same time, a big headache too because you have to decide which of the players best suits your style of play.
I am delighted that Simy, Moffi, Sadiq, Iheanacho, Onuachu, Osimhen are making Nigerians proud in Europe and I just hope they will continue this way for till 2022 World Cup qualifiers commence.
If you are to select three of the strikers for AFCON 2022, who will you select?
Basically, I think I will still bank on strikers that I have worked with from day one, and that will make me select Iheanacho, Osimhen, and Onuachu. I may also be forced to pick Simy due to his gangling stature that may provide an aerial presence for the team.
Finally, do you think Nigeria can win the 2022 AFCON tournament in Cameroon?
On paper, yes but it will be a tough campaign for the three-time AFCON champions. I expect a better outing for the Super Eagles in Cameroon.