Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has said the Super Eagles are now ready for Saturday’s Group D opening clash Croatia at the Kaliningrad Stadium, Extrasportsportsnigeria.com reports.
He said, “Now the team is ready; we are physically ready. We have two training sessions today (Wednesday) and we will see the players again. Technically and tactically we have three days to work on some things.”
He is however keeping the starting line-up close to his chest until Friday. The German met with the media on Wednesday at the team’s base in Essentuki.
He adjusted the usual starting midfield after the loss to England at Wembley.
“We have our team in our heart already but we will wait till the final moment before we give it out. We spent nine days in Austria, two training sessions every day. This preparation gives us a possibility to see who is fit physically and who needs more time to be ready.”
On paper Eagles are the underdogs compared to an experienced Croatia side with like Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic. Rohr and his team captain Mikel Obi are however optimistic of a good showing
“Croatia watched us against England and Czech Republic. The game will be a good one for both teams. It is an important game for the two teams as it is good to start with a win.
“They are more experienced than us but we have young team and there is big enthusiasm in the team.”
Rohr is hoping that the relationship between some of his players and Russia as a country will help the team with the Russians emotionally supporting the Eagles. Ahmed Musa and Bryan Idowu play in the Russian league while Mikel is married to a Russian.
Rohr said, “We have some our players who have special relationship with Russia such as Idowu who is Russian and Nigerian born and Musa who plays for CSKA Moscow. Of course there is also Mikel who is married to a Russian. We hope this will help us get the sympathy of the Russian public.
“We won’t have the possibility of our fans back home coming out to support us as the distance is very far but we hope the fans can give us their support because of these players.”
But then he added, “Croatia is not far from here and we expect their fans to come out in large numbers to support their team.”