Rohr, Mikel confident as Eagles land in Volgograd

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr and team captain Mikel Obi have again expressed Super Eagles readiness for the all important encounter against Iceland on Friday as the team settles into Volgograd.

Eagles have in the southern Russia town of Volgograd ahead of Friday’s win-or-bust World Cup Group D encounter against Iceland.

The Nigerians flew in from their Essentuki base on Thursday morning and were settled into their Hampton-by-Hilton Volgograd Hotel abode a little after 1pm local time.

Focus has been on the encounter with the Euro 2016 quarter finalists since the loss to Croatia in Kaliningrad on Saturday, as victory against the feisty Scandinavians will renew hope for a place in the knockout rounds while defeat would mean early and unflattering elimination from the quadrennial showpiece.

Rohr told the media in Essentuki on Wednesday that he had been drawn to a plethora of suggestions in the media space on best formations, patterns and appropriate player-position-cum-strength postulations following the reverse against Croatia, but that he knows what is best for the team and will deploy same on Friday.

“We have watched the game against Croatia again to see our mistakes so that we can correct them. It will be a tough game. We have to be at our best and be more professional with our defending especially from set-pieces.

“We have to be fully focused and not lose concentration all through the game. I believe with hard work we can get a good result. In truth, there is no need to add to the pressure we have now. More pressure on the team will not necessarily translate to better results.”

Captain Mikel, widely analyzed not to have functioned effectively in the advanced midfield role against the Croats, said he would be ready to feature in any position for the team as determined by the coach.

“I am ready to play in any position the coach wants me to play. I am comfortable with either role: offensive or defensive. The most important thing is the team.”

The Nigeria Football Federation’s website, reported on Friday that all players in camp were very fit, meaning Rohr is presented with an opportunity to pick among all 23 players.

It was also established that Nigeria’s number three man, Senate President Bukola Saraki, will attend the match at the 45,000-capacity Volgograd Arena.

Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad and which is, 940 kilometres to the south of Moscow, extends alongside the Volga River and has a population of 1 million people. The unforgettable ‘Battle of Stalingrad’ was a turning point during the Second World War, with about 2 million persons said to have been killed and German expansionist mission decisively aborted.

Victory on Friday would be a turning point in Nigeria’s 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign.