Nigeria Coach Gernot Rohr says he is calm and collected and that the Super Eagles have no fear of any team, 24 hours before today’s Final Draw for the 21st FIFA World Cup finals.
Speaking from the Crowne Plaza World Trade Centre, Moscow the morning after he landed in the Russian capital for the showpiece event, Rohr told thenff.com that there is no weak squad in the 32 –team field, and anyone hoping to play so –called ‘average teams’ in the group phase is only guilty of wishful thinking.
“All the teams that are in the Final Draw, except the host nation Russia, played qualifying matches. They all emerged from tough encounters and therefore, none can be tagged ‘weak.’
“In the next 24 hours, we will enter the State Kremlin Palace for the Final Draw and a couple of hours later, everyone will know their opponents. There is no apprehension. If you have to be listed among the best, you have to conquer the better teams and even beat some of the best.”
Nigeria emerged from a truly tough qualifying group, which included three teams that were among Africa’s five flag –bearers at the 2014 World Cup, and the other – Zambia – having won the Africa Cup of Nations only few years before. All were former Africa Cup champions, and Cameroon were even the Cup holders.
Between them were 10 African titles: Cameroon (5); Nigeria (3); Algeria (1); Zambia (1).
During the week, statistical analysis of the teams in the Final Draw revealed that Nigeria used the youngest squad to qualify for the finals, and 16 days ago right on Russian soil, the three –time African champions came from two goals down to flog two –time world champions Argentina 4-2 in a friendly game.
“We don’t see that as more than a friendly, but what we took away was the capacity of the boys to respond appropriately to adversity, and I loved their reaction,” Rohr intimated. The win brought back memories of Nigeria’s 4-1 spanking of the Argentines in another friendly in Abuja on the first day of June 2011, and the 1996 Olympic Final, in which the South Americans were outlcassed by the Dream Team.
“Seriously speaking, every team has the right to dream. But we have our heads on our shoulders and our feet on the ground, and whatever draw comes, we will take it one match at a time.”
Friday’s Final Draw at the State Kremlin Palace will start at 6pm Moscow time (4pm Nigeria time).
Russia is the largest country in the world, bounded by 12 seas including the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans and its 17.1million square kilometres make it one-eighth of the earth’s inhabited surface area. The country extends across 11 of the earth’s 24 standard time zones, and its 146 million people make it the 9th most populous nation in the world. The 146 million people represent 140 nationalities, who speak over 100 languages.