Gernot Rohr is not your hipster kind of football manager. You know, the type that makes you feel “let’s go to war”. Yet he is a calm tactician who focuses on getting the best from what is available to him and his preparation.
“The result is not the most important, of course, everybody wants to win. The most important aspect is what we can see, what we can learn, and what the players can do perhaps with different strategies,” Rohr said at the pre-match press conference on Monday.
The Super Eagles play Serbia on Tuesday in London as they continue their impressive preparation for the summer World Cup in Russia but the coach has continued to temper expectation.
Rohr rightly admitted that his team was lucky to have won their last friendly against Poland last Friday in Wroclaw. It was a strong test for the Eagles who are still young as a group but anyway you need luck to excel at the Mundial.
Poland had a goal ruled out and were close many times with set plays and crosses, including when Robert Lewandowski struck the outside of the post.
Against Serbia, Rohr will be looking for more from his players – a more cohesive play and better transition from defence to attack while missing the leadership of captain, John Obi Mikel. They’ve managed decently without the midfielder, but having him for these two friendlies would have helped in improving the bonding in match situations.
Nigeria had a mix of high press, which was largely impressive, and a counter-attacking tactical approach against Poland and Rohr is expecting another difficult game against Serbia.
“If we can it will be wonderful but Serbia will be difficult like the Poland game because they will not want to lose two times after losing their last game.” Serbia lost 2-1 to Morocco last Friday.
One of those players still looking to find their feet is 19-year-old Deportivo La Coruna goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho. He had a nervy opening half against Poland but improved as the game went on, denying Lewandowski in a one-on-one situation in the second half.
Rohr praised the goalkeeper and suggested he would be retaining him between the posts for today’s game at The Hive, venue of the encounter.
Meanwhile, the Eagles manager has confirmed that Leicester City striker, Kelechi Iheanacho is injured and will not feature against Serbia.
Serbia coach, Mladen Krstajic, believes they are far from the perfect team and have a lot of work to do before the World Cup and that the match against Nigeria offers another great opportunity to improve as a squad.
“Nigeria is a strong team, we know them, and we hope to improve and play a great game,” he said via an interpreter.