Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has delivered a stern warning to his team ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Zambia in Uyo on Saturday.
The Super Eagles are in a commanding place to book their place in the Russia finals after amassing 10 points from four games to sit atop the World Cup qualifying Group B. They are followed by Chipolopolo in the second place on seven points, while African champions Cameroon are third in the group on three points and Algeria last in the table on one point.
Zambia defeated Algeria in their qualifying double-header (3-1 in Lusaka on September 2 and 1-0 in Constantine three days later) to breath a fresh life into their World Cup qualifying campaign.
Chipolopolo, who are seeking their first World Cup appearance, opened their qualifying campaign with a 2-1 home loss to the Eagles in Ndola on October 9, 2016 before earning a point in their 1-1 draw against Cameroon in Limbe on November 12, 2016.
Nigeria could back themselves into a corner with a bad result in Uyo, giving Zambia, who play their last qualifier against Cameroon at home on November 6 (with Algeria hosting Nigeria in Constantine the same day), a huge advantage in the race to Russia.
And Rohr, whose side need a win on Saturday to book their Russia 2018 ticket, has sounded the alarm on the threat posed by the highly motivated opponents.
“I have seen a lot of videos of the Zambian team and I must confess they are a very good side much better than the team we played last October but we are not afraid,” the German manager said in an interview with Cafonline.com on Tuesday.
“We only have to give them respect but we won’t make the mistake Algeria made by underrating Zambia; they have quick strikers but we shall be ready for them.”
The former Burkina Faso and Gabon coach, who has only lost one competitive game since he replaced Sunday Oliseh last year, added, “I can’t predict the scoreline against Zambia because it would not be an easy match.
“Zambia can be dangerous because they also have a good team; I don’t think it would be a 4-0 win for us but the most important thing for us is to win even if it’s by one or two goals.”
Rohr insists the Eagles must show their fighting spirit to overcome the East Africans’ physical approach.
He said, “We are going to show a good fighting spirit; we want to go to Russia to show the world that we are a very good team with a good fighting spirit. In this game against Zambia, the players would show what they can do defensively and offensively.
“Our goal is to win the game and there is no doubt about that. It’s a good situation for us because even a draw is still okay but we want to win.”