Gernot Rohr, in preparations for upcoming games against Algeria and Argentina, provides a clear sign that no one should expect major changes in the team’s squad going into the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
On his list of 24 invitees, plus a standby list of three players, include just two players who had not previously received an invitation under Rohr. Yet, the games against Algeria and Argentina present opportunity to try new invitees.
The games are not competitive and they are scheduled in one of only two FIFA international match weeks before the World Cup begin in Russia next June. If just two new faces will be present against Algeria and Argentina, when would Rohr invite several other players advocated in the Nigerian media?
Of course, there is another international match period between March 19 and 27. However, Nigeria has a qualifying match for the 2019 Cup of African Nations (AFCON) against Seychelles during that week. Though Seychelles is poorly rated, Nigeria cannot take the game lightly considering that Nigeria has already fallen behind in the qualifiers after a home loss to South Africa.
Thus, it is more likely that Rohr will rely on his regular squad for the game against Seychelles and budgeting for an additional international friendly in the same week is likely going to recommend that the same squad, perhaps with sprinkling of a few new faces, will be invited.
Beyond the November and the March international free periods, what is left would be the camping period just before the World Cup in late May and June. Likely, players based in England will arrive camp late and Rohr will be focusing on team chemistry and surely will loathe testing several new invitees during such camping. The only exception may be a truly gifted player or two that may emerge about that time.
In essence, Gernot Rohr, can be read like an open book. His tenure has been based on extreme caution and relying on true and tested players. None of his current starters debuted during his tenure. All of them were already Nigerian internationals before Rohr was appointed.
What Gernot Rohr has done is debut a key reserve in Mikel Agu. His attention has focused, instead, on building TEAM chemistry and he was okay with squad players developed by previous coaches.
Rohr will not change now and certainly not with the situation that he now faces with FIFA international match weeks as the World Cup approaches. This is not necessarily bad, but it is reality.
Thus, it is more than likely that Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup squad is already set as of today. Perhaps, there may be no more than two to three new faces going into the World Cup squad. Rohr’s focus will be building the TEAM and testing out tactics and not assimilating as many new players as the Nigerian media discover.