How Eagles can subdue Cameroon – Rufai
Peter Rufai insists the Super Eagles will only triumph in their Group B Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying double-header against Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions if Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr features players who are ready to fight on the pitch.
The Eagles host their fierce rivals in Uyo on August 31 and travel to Yaounde for the reverse fixture on September 4.
Nigeria sit atop the group on six points, followed by African champions Cameroon on two points. Zambia and Algeria who are other teams in the group have one point each.
Rohr has been hit by a goalkeeping crisis in the run-up to the double-header after his first choice keeper Carl Ikeme was diagnosed with acute leukaemia last month.
And Rufai, who expressed concern over the goalkeeping crisis facing the Eagles, warns Rohr not to gamble on team selection over the two legs.
“Any match between Nigeria and Cameroon is always explosive and I don’t expect these World Cup qualifiers to be different,” the former Portuguese outfit Farense custodian told our correspondent in Lagos on Tuesday.
“The two matches (in Uyo and Yaounde) will be very tough for us, we must be ready for them.”
Rufai, who represented Nigeria at the USA ’94 and France ’98 World Cups, says Rohr should feature good quality and experienced players to enable the Eagles to survive the highly physical Cameroonian players.
He said, “Cameroon believes in experienced players. Many Cameroonian players play for their national team for years, unlike us.
“We must play our experienced players against them. We shouldn’t gamble on playing inexperienced players against them.”
“Our players must be ready to fight the opponents throughout the game.”
The former Stationery Stores shot-stopper believed Rohr and his charges had learnt some lessons from their 2-0 defeat by South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo on June 10.”
Former Gabon manager Rohr started youngster Chidozie Awaziem in the heart of the Eagles’ defence, dropping South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner Kenneth Omeruo to the bench.
Bafana exploited the weaknesses in the Nigerian defence to beat them for the first time in a competitive affair.
“They (Eagles) shouldn’t make the mistakes they made against South Africa against Cameroon,” Rufai said.
On the goalkeeping crisis facing the Eagles ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, the former Lokeren keeper said the Nigeria Football Federation Technical Committee would help Rohr as the German searches for Ikeme’s replacement.
“Nigeria is so big that finding a good keeper should not be a problem,” he said.
However, Rufai said he would support Rohr if he chooses the much vilified Chippa United keeper Daniel Akpeyi as the man between the sticks for the Eagles versus Cameroon.
He said, “Akpeyi shouldn’t be blamed for the defeat against South Africa. He did his best in the game.
“The entire team should be blamed for the defeat. After all the ball went past the attackers, midfielders and defenders before getting to his position.
“The Eagles should come together as a collective unit against Cameroon.”Punch