Gernot Rohr Laments Dearth Of Top Nigerian Defenders In Europe

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The Franco-German gaffer is spoilt for choice in the attacking department of the senior national side, but the same can’t be said of the team’s defensive unit

Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr is pleased to have a long list of Nigerian forwards to invite for international duties, with several playing for clubs in the top five European leagues.

But the 67-year-old has expressed his displeasure at having only a small pool of defenders to pick from any time the Super Eagles have official matches to prosecute.

Nigerian strikers continue to dominate the headlines across Europe with Kelechi Iheanacho Leicester City’s top scorer in the Europa League with three goals.

Terem Moffi has been outstanding in France for struggling Lorient while Henry Onyekuru’s three goals since his return to Turkey have played a crucial role in sending Galatasaray top of the Super Lig.

Former youth international Taiwo Awoniyi has been Nigeria’s brightest star in the German Bundesliga while Josh Maja’s return to Fulham is experiencing a fine start.

Genk’s Paul Onuachu, though, is the most prolific Nigerian number nine in Europe, with 23 goals in the First Division A alone.

But there’s a bit of concern in the defensive department.

Ola Aina, on-loan from Serie A side Torino, is a regular feature for relegation-threatened Fulham while Leon Balogun has impressed for Scottish league leaders Rangers.

However, the trio of Super Eagles vice-captain William Troost-Ekong, centre-back Kenneth Omeruo, and full-back Jamilu Collins all ply their trade with second-tier clubs in England, Spain, and Germany respectively.

Efforts by the Nigerian Football Federation to convince foreign-born defenders such as Hertha Berlin’s Jordan Torunarigha have yielded no positive results.

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And Rohr has expressed a wish to have as many top defenders to choose from as he has quality strikers.

“I’m happy my strikers are doing well and scoring goals,” the former Bordeaux manager told the Sun News.

“Taiwo Awoniyi is scoring, same as Paul Onuachu, Josh Maja, Terem Moffi, and Henry Onyekuru. We also have Victor Osimhen and Kelechi Iheanacho. These players are doing well in their various teams and it’s positive signal for the Super Eagles.

“We’ve too many strikers doing well and scoring in Europe, but very few defenders doing well.”

The Super Eagles are scheduled to meet the Squirrels of the Benin Republic and the Crocodiles of Lesotho in March in the final group games of the 2021 Afcon-qualifying series.

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