Super Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr has stamped his decision to take a large array of young players to the World Cup, and believes the team’s captain, John Mikel Obi would be able to inspire them to great performances.
Though critics also worry that playing for Tianjin Teda of China is not the best of levels for the Eagles’ captain, Rohr insists Mikel has the right leadership qualities to motivate the squad all the way.
The Chinese Super League may not be one of the most competitive leagues in the world but the German tactician has pointed out that his captain will be match fit heading into the tournament as he plays week in, week out.
Rohr admitted that Nigeria’s squad for the 1998 World Cup that contained the likes of Austin Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Daniel Amokachi and Victor Ikpeba are better than the current squad that will participate in Russia 2018.
Key members of Nigeria’s 1998 World Cup squad were part of the original Dream Team that won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Rohr is putting his trust in the like of Ola Aina, Tyronne Ebuehi, Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho, as he is optimistic that they will do well in Russia.
“Because of all the players they have produced, Nigeria have a high pedigree in world football. I agree that this generation might not be a set of such stars.
“We do not have so many great players, but this is a young team of real professionals, and they are hungry for some great results.
”I am convinced that these guys can have real success in Russia and earn additional respect for the entire football world.
”I hope some of our players will become stars at the World Cup, but much more important is that the whole team is a star.
“Do not forget, we are the youngest team of all 32 teams to play at the World Cup. Obi Mikel is our captain and leader, very important for this team.
“The level of football in China is now higher and I am, in fact, lucky that he plays all the time and what will come in the right shape for the World Cup.
”I would not compare the players, I was just talking about Mikel. Well, everybody knows who Modric is.
“He is a world class player playing high level in one of the best clubs in the world. I would say that like this, I believe Modric is to Croatia what John Obi Mikel is,” Rohr submitted.