Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr wants Rangers stars Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun to experience the “crazy city” of Lagos on an international mission next month – but warns that they need a security escort for their final qualifying battle for the African Nations Cup to reach.
The Super Eagles face an away trip to Benin – a match they’ll travel to by boat from the national team’s base – before rounding out their campaign against tiny Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in the country’s most populous city.
The Ibrox duo could celebrate a double win within a week if they secure the Scottish Premier League title on March 21 at the house of nearest rivals Celtic. Nigeria only needed a single win from either of their last two games to get the competition right.
Aribo, who was born in Camberwell, London, and Balogun, who was born in Berlin, have 38 caps for the national team. Both played in the thrilling 4-4 draw against Sierra Leone in November, when Nigeria scored four goals ahead in Benin City.
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While the COVID-19 pandemic means removing the usually lively atmosphere from the occasion, Rohr gave a massive clue to their international future when the Super Eagles boss claimed it was important to the couple, the bustling heart of the city to experience personally.
However, he admitted that there would be logistical challenges to ensuring the team and facilities are prepared before the game against the tiny enclave in southern Africa can take place.
He told Europe 1: “The traffic in Lagos is terrible, but we are promised an escort between our hotel and the stadium or even the road is closed to avoid traffic jams.
“It took me an hour the other day to make the trip. It’s a bit much before a game. It will probably be in an empty stadium. The teams are working on the pitch. I’ve inspected everything.
“The idea of playing in Lagos is good for the players. Some do not know this city at all, this is the case of Leon Balogun, Aribo or others who were born in Europe.
“You will discover this crazy city of 19 million people. It is important that we have security, exercise and a good lawn to play on. We are working on all of these aspects. “
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He added, “We know that a lot of work is being done, that the lawn is watered every day, and that machines have been instructed to mow the grass well.
“There are no problems with hotels, there are many in Lagos. We will have the “fitness” in the hotel that we didn’t have in Benin City the day before.
“We will be very close to Benin. We risk the trip to Cotonou, where we play our match of the 5th day by boat on March 27th, because the road is not good and the crossing only takes two hours. “