Rohr's Nigeria face the heat in Volgograd against Iceland

World Cup 2018 By: Lolade Adewuyi | 22/06/2018

Gernot Rohr

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is faced with a major question about his future as the Super Eagles play against Iceland on Friday. It is a game they need to win after losing their opening Group D game to Croatia in Kaliningrad.

Evasive about his tactics for the game, the German declared that it is a game his team has come to win while answering a question about his future in the case of a defeat. There is already talk that he is opting got play a defensive trio at the back with either Kenneth Omeruo or John Ogu joining Leon Balogun and William Ekong in the back.

Though Rohr’s contract has been extended for another two years, an early elimination will surely set public opinion against him and lead to the NFF reconsidering their decision.

“For me, it’s not a question to lose this game,” Rohr said. “I think we will not lose this game so I don’t ask this question of myself. You can ask it after the game if you want, but I tell you we not lose.

“We have a lot of respect for the team from Iceland. They did so well against Argentina. We know that it will be very difficult to beat them.”

Super Eagles arrive in Volgograd for make or mar game

Rohr has come under harsh criticism for his tactics after a lacklustre Super Eagles were trounced 3-0 in Kaliningrad last Saturday. Talk of playing captain John Obi Mikel out of position, recently amplified by his former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, has been met by his insistence that the midfielder played the position effectively during the World Cup qualification campaign where they did not lose any game in regulation time.

If he will change his tactics on Friday, Rohr did not say. Only that he is working on ensuring they fix the problems noticed during the opening game.

“We will focus on our next match tomorrow,” he said. “We’d like to show the good football that we can play.”

Nigeria are up against an Iceland team that topped Croatia’s group during qualification and held Argentina to a 1-1 draw last week.

Rohr believes that the experience of the Icelandic players, whose average age is 28.6 years could prove important against his side who have an average age of 25.9 years, the youngest in the tournament.

However, he insists that they will try to win while giving the impression that the core of the team will not be fully mature until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“What we have is a team for 2022,” he said. “It’s not finished after this World Cup for us, we have to learn and to improve.

“They don’t have big stars, we don’t have big stars. So it will be a match between collectives. They have more experience,” he said.

Really, with Nigeria fans asking for miracles, nobody has time to wait that long when it is clear that many of the players would have dropped off the radar with newer players coming on board again. Even the fact that his job is not guaranteed if the team losses show that his continuous talk about having a young side will not hold water.

Rohr addressed an issue that has affected all African sides at this tournament, the failure at dealing with set pieces has accounted for several heart-breaking moments.

“African people (teams) must work very hard at set pieces because they lose concentration,” he said. “That is what my young teams must work on to improve.”

With temperatures set to rise to around 33 degrees Centigrade on Friday, Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrímsson has suggested that it could favour the West Africans.

However, Rohr believes that it will offer just a little advantage because the bulk of his team plays in European countries.

After Croatia defeated Argentina 3-0 on Thursday, Rohr and his side will face a heat of their own on Friday evening. One hopes that they will come out stronger and finer.