Despite facing severe criticisms and rumours of an imminent loss of his job, the Nigerian national team head coach has remained focused on getting the former African champions to Qatar next year
Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr is convinced that Nigerian midfielder Samuel Kalu is an excellent winger whose best position is on the left flank of an attacking trident.
Rohr handed Kalu his Super Eagles debut three years ago, aged just 21, and he has watched the youngster make 17 appearances, scoring twice for the three-time Afcon kings.
However, the Girondins Bordeaux playmaker has struggled for game time recently for club and country, following several spells with injury, a scary loss of consciousness during a Ligue 1 match, and poor form.
The 24-year-old has not started any of Bordeaux’s last five league matches and was snubbed by Rohr during the November World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde.
But the German tactician insists that he rates Kalu highly while revealing that he knows how to get the best out of the midfielder.
“Samuel Kalu’s best position? It’s on the left-wing,” Rohr told France Bleu Gironde as per Girondins4ever.
“For me, he’s a magnificent winger, who is fast, who dribbles, who crosses, who can score when he comes from the left. In a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. On the left side, he is magnificent every time he plays with Nigeria.”
Rohr guided the Super Eagles to top their qualifying group ahead of the Cape Verde Islands and make it to the final rounds of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, even if his side’s performances have not been convincing.
The 2013 African champions join nine other qualifiers in the playoffs for five qualifying tickets. Nigeria, who remain among the continent’s best five teams in the last FIFA global tanking, will likely be seeded alongside Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria when the draws are made in January.
And Rohr is relieved that the Super Eagles, who could avoid those difficult opponents, will stand a better chance against unseeded Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon, and Congo DR.
The former Bordeaux manager said: “We finished first in our group ahead of Cape Verde. We will have the playoff to play at the end of March, and we will soon know against whom.
“We are in any case in the Top5, so we will not face the very best in Africa. I think it’s playable. We will see; we have to wait for the draw.”
The Super Eagles have qualified for six of the last seven editions of the FIFA World Cup, missing out on the party to Germany 2006 after Angola pipped them to the qualification ticket.