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Rohr warns Croatia, considers Ogu for starting role

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr insists the Super Eagles will be arriving in Russia for the 2018 World Cup to make a bold statement, not as frightened rabbits.

The three-time African champions, who are scheduled to hit Russia on Monday,  have copped a lot flake for losing  their  last pre-World Cup friendly match 1-0  against Czech Republic in Austria on Wednesday. The defeat came after they lost  2-1 against England on June 2.

However, Rohr has brushed off the defeats, saying  they  had made the necessary corrections based on  their   observations.

“We are okay with the garb of the underdog. But the defeats have done something for us — we have our heads firmly on our shoulders and we are focused,” the German told the Nigeria Football Federation’s official website on Sunday.

“Together, we have reviewed the matches and learnt so many lessons. We will approach the World Cup matches differently.”

The former Gabon manager said the Eagles would be ready for their tournament’s opening  fixture against Croatia in Kaliningrad on  Saturday, warning the Europeans  not to underestimate  his team.

The 64-year-old said,  “We will take it one match at a time. I love this group because we know how to rise to the occasion together.

“Nigeria will be ready for Croatia.”

Meanwhile, reports on Sunday indicated that Rohr is planning to start versatile Israel-based John Ogu alongside Leicester City star Wilfred Ndidi in  the defensive midfield against Croatia.

Turkey-based midfielder Ogenyi Onazi  started in the holding positions alongside Ndidi in past matches but his recent below-par performances must be giving Rohr  some concern.

Mikel Obi is expected to play in front of the duo with Victor Moses and Alex Iwobi also in line to start. Rohr is said to have since  pencilled in new  Brighton defender Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong for starting roles.


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