Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has said he is excited the Super Eagles can now fly to next year’s World Cup in Russia with ill goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.
Ikeme is now undergoing treatment in England for acute Leukemia after a year ago he was the Man of the Match as Nigeria snatched a 2-1 win in Zambia to get the Eagles World Cup campaign off to a winning start.
“We did this for Carl Ikeme,” said Rohr after Nigeria beat Zambia 1-0 in Uyo on Saturday to book their ticket to Russia 2018.
“In Zambia a year ago, it was one man who saved us, our goalkeeper – Carl Ikeme. He brought us on the right way. We called him last night, he spoke to the team before the match and we promised to do it for him.
“That’s why I am really, really happy and we wish he will come with us to Russia next year.”
He admitted the team’s World Cup qualifying run was beyond his expectations considering they were drawn against top teams like Cameroon and Algeria.
“I didn’t believe we could have four wins and a draw in this group with the teams there,” he said.
“It is not finished. Now we have to prepare to have a good World Cup.
“I am happy for this country. I was here for two weeks during the independence anniversary and now let us continue to celebrate the qualification for the World Cup together.”
Saturday’s home game against Zambia was the toughest for his team, Rohr said.
“The most difficult game was today (vs Zambia) because we had to win to qualify, we were favourites and we are at home. There was pressure, but the players were mentally and physically strong,” he said.
“First game in Zambia was difficult, but not many believed we could win there. We won.
“Today (yesterday) was a big fight. We had to be intelligent, not to concede a goal and play our counter attacks.”