Gernot Rohr Frustrated As Key Super Eagles Players Withdraw From Cameroon Friendly
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By Our Correspondent
Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr is battling to see if he can get his squad in time to face Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in Friday’s International friendly as key players have withdrawn from the match, Bestchoicesports.com.ng understands
It was gathered that the key players who have withdrawn from the high profile match cited injuries as well as lack of payment of match bonuses.
A rash of withdrawals of key Nigeria players has put the Super Eagles’ proposed friendly against Cameroon in Austria in peril, with six of nine selected defenders taking themselves out of contention.
The African powerhouses are scheduled to face off on June 4, but Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr may be unable to raise a team strong enough to compete.
The German initially selected a strong, plus-sized 31-man squad in mid-May, but whittled down that to a more manageable 23 barely two weeks later. However, that number has been dwindling over the last few days, leaving Rohr scrambling to find replacements in time for the game.
Among the withdrawals are Kenneth Omeruo and Sadiq Umar. Both players will be involved with their clubs in the promotion playoffs in Spain. As will Moses Simon, whose FC Nantes also face a battle to remain in the French Ligue 1 via the playoffs.
While the official reason for the other withdrawals have been medical, player sources have alleged to ESPN that outstanding debts from the NFF have played a big part on their unwillingness to risk further injury.
“The players are not happy,” the source, who is one of the players who withdrew from the game, alleged to ESPN. “They have not paid bonuses and allowances, nothing at all for the entire  Afcon qualifiers.
“We have sacrificed by playing throughout the qualifiers without being paid. I think now, with all the injuries, it is hard for many of us to make the sacrifice to come and play a meaningless friendly when the outstanding bonuses have not been paid.
“It is better for us to stay away, recover properly, rest and get ready for the new season and the World Cup qualifiers.”
Fulham defender Ola Aina has withdrawn from the Nigeria squad due to an ankle injury.
For Rohr, this presents a major logistical challenge, as he scrambles to make up a squad of 18 less than a week before the match, though has attested that all the medical withdrawals are legitimate.
He told ESPN: “We had nine defenders in list. Six now are out.
“They said they had some injuries and the doctors from the clubs said they need to rest because they have some pains. So we got some medical attestations from the teams.
“Ola Aina told ESPN that his ankle is painful and he cannot make it and the club physio said he cannot play. Then we have (Kevin) Akpoguma, we knew already he is injured and cannot play.
“Victor Osimhen is injured. He send us an attestation. The meniscus in his knee is painful.
“(Zaidu) Sanusi is injured. He was in Paris to see a doctor, for surgery perhaps but not for the moment. (Tyronne) Ebuehi sent us a message with a medical attestation that he cannot make it. And Semi Ajayi also says he has problems with his back and the Physio says he needs two weeks of rest.
“Simy Nwankwo also, they send us attestation from his club that he cannot make it because he is injured.”
But that is not even as bad as it gets for Rohr. To make up for the absentee players, Rohr called up some fresh ones as replacements. Valentine Ozornwafor from Galatasaray, Samson Tijani from RB Salzburg and Frank Onyeka from Midtylland, among others.
But even that failed to resolve the situation as players that he called up to replace the injured players, also ended up pulling out.
“I invited the player Tijani from Salzburg who has told me that he is injured in training yesterday… hamstring. And Frank Onyeka from Midjtylland, I called him but he cannot come either,” Rohr said.
FC Lorient’s Terem Moffi could make his Nigeria debut if the game against Cameroon goes ahead.
Because the withdrawals came so late in the day, there is no chance of getting players from Nigeria’s domestic league to compensate for the personnel deficits, as they would require at least 10 days to secure entry visas.
The situation has left Rohr concerned about the fate of the game: “I don’t know if they can cancel, I only know that I have maximum 18 players. If the players from England, William (Troost-Ekong), Kelechi, Ndidi and Iwobi can come, then maybe we play but I have no substitutes and there is no chance to get other players.
“But if they cannot play because they have to go into quarantine, then we cannot make it.
“I think they made this friendly in Austria to give us a good condition for preparation, but I see that it is difficult to motivate the players to come to Europe because some of the players are in Nigeria already. And they have to come back to Europe to play.
“My problem now is that I hope that we will have 18 players to arrive.”
The absentees mean that players like FC Lorient’s Terem Moffi could win his first international cap, as could CD Feirense’s Abraham Marcus, who was recently voted player of the season in the Portuguese second division, called up for the first time by Rohr.
THE REVISED LIST
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, The Netherlands); Valentine Ozornwafor (Galatasaray FC, Turkey)
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosia, Cyprus); Frank Onyeka (FC Midtjylland, Denmark); Abraham Marcus (CD Feirense, Portugal)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Kano Pillars FC); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Praha, Czech Republic); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Anayo Iwuala (Enyimba FC); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Simy Nwankwo (Crotone FC, Italy)