Head coach of Nigeria national team Gernot Rohr has explained the reason behind his decision to overlook Union Berlin striker Taiwo Awoniyi for the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde this week.
Awoniyi has been in breathtaking form in the recently launched 2021-22 Bundesliga campaign, scoring five times in his five consecutive matches in all competitions for the German topflight side.
Following his exploits for the Iron Ones this term, fans have questioned the manager's invitation criterion, with the former Liverpool forward missing from the roaster for games against the Lone Stars and the Blue Sharks.
Despite England based stars expected to miss the trip to Cape Verde on September 7 in Mindelo, Rohr insisted that the Bundesliga star was overlooked due to having four better options in the centre forward position.
“There are people calling for Awoniyi while also there are those calling for other players,” Rohr told the media during Thursday’s press conference.
“We can only bring three centre forwards, we have already [Victor] Osimhen, we have Paul Onuachu, we have [Terem] Moffi who is doing well in Lorient and we even have Kelechi [Iheanacho].
“So, which one do you want me to bring out to put in Awoniyi?”
With Cape Verde forced to 1-1 draw by Central African Republic on September 1, the former Burkina Faso and Niger Republic coach urged his side not to underestimate Peter Butler’s team.
“We played against them in a friendly in Monrovia two or three years ago, and from that team, they still have some players,” he futher disclosed.
“Also, we watched their three friendly games in June. They played in Tunisia twice and the one other game in Algeria.
“They have some players playing in big clubs like [Oscar] Dorley playing in Slavia Prague and [Allen] Njie in Switzerland.
“They have a good centre forward [Kpah] Sherman playing in Malaysia. So, I think we know them and I have talked to my players that they are a good team and we should never underrate them.”