ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Jun 29 – Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr pledged to ring the changes for his team’s final Africa Cup of Nations group game against surprise package Madagascar to stoke competition in the squad.
The Super Eagles are guaranteed a place in the last 16 but need a point on Sunday in Alexandria to secure top spot in Group B and set up a meeting with a third-place finisher in the next round.
“It’s important to finish first of the group, it’s better to play a team in third than second so we will do all to finish top,” Rohr told reporters at a pre-match news conference in the Mediterranean city.
“We have our scout watching a lot of games in Cairo. We have to prepare to play against a good team. It could be South Africa, DR Congo or maybe Cameroon so in all cases it will be a very tough match in the round of 16, but we’re not there yet and are focused on the game tomorrow.”
“Will I make changes? Yes, because I want to put everyone under pressure and have that competition in each position. We’ll see in the last training tonight which changes we will do,” he added.
Madagascar are well positioned to reach the knockout stages in their debut in the competition after collecting four points from their opening two games.
“It will be a really interesting match against a team that has a lot of offensive qualities. I think it will also be a ‘final’ in the group, the winner will be top and that’s a big motivation for us.”
Nigeria forward Ahmed Musa said morale in the squad was good despite a training strike earlier in the week over unpaid bonuses.
“I dont think there’s anything separating the team in camp,” said Musa. “We have to fight for our country and we have to work very hard.
“Each game is more important and we are improving each game and I think the next game will be even better.”
A draw would send Madagascar through as runners-up but coach Nicolas Dupuis, who combines the role with his job a French fourth division club Fleury, insists the Indian Ocean islanders aren’t quite there yet.
“I’m very proud of my players, they’ve all been very good,” said Dupuis. “We’ve played in our first CAN, got our first point and first win.
“We’re not yet qualified for the last 16 so I’m not going to try and calculate things. It would be a shame for it to end here.”
He added: “We’re going out there to try and win knowing we’re not favourites. One point will be enough for us to finish second.”