We have talent - West hopes young Nigeria can Rohr in Russia

Taribo West believes Premier League duo Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho will be crucial for Nigeria at the World Cup.

Published : Jun 16, 2018 20:16 IST

Experienced coach Gernot Rohr can help Nigeria's rising stars prosper at the World Cup in Russia, according to Taribo West.

The African nation begins its campaign against Croatia in Kaliningrad on Saturday, with Argentina and Iceland also in a highly competitive group.

Nigeria has the youngest squad in the tournament but former national team defender West believes Rohr, who has previously worked in Austria, France and Switzerland, as well as his native Germany, can help it cope, despite many of its players lacking experience in European football.

For that reason, West - who represented his country at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups - singled out Chelsea's Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City as key performers, as well as captain John Obi Mikel.

"Players like Victor, Iheanacho, Obi Mikel have demonstrated their qualities," West told Goal.

"And the advantage of this selection is to have a very experienced coach in Gernot Rohr. He knows the highest level. We rely a lot on him, on his experience.

"It's a team that does not have a lot of experienced players. We do not have big, big players. But I think Rohr has worked hard. Collectively, I find them very strong. It's a young, fresh team.

"We have talent and are mentally strong. But I repeat, these players, apart from a few of them, need to acclimatise to the highest level. European experience is missing in this squad."

Rohr declared in his pre-match news conference on Friday that this World Cup may have come too soon for his squad, with Qatar 2022 a more realistic target for success.

West - who had stints at Inter and AC Milan during his career - acknowledges Nigeria faces a tough task to qualify for the knockout stages after the draw left them facing three tricky opponents in Group D.

"It's a very difficult group," he admitted. "Croatia is a high-level team at the moment. They have very strong players.

"Then Iceland, it is not a team that should be neglected. We saw what they did during the European Championship in France.

"And then there is Argentina which is a team used to playing in the biggest international competitions."

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment