‘Rohr won’t make it easy’ – Dynamic Onyeka warns ahead of Benin 2026 World Cup qualifier

Nigerian midfielder Frank Onyeka has spoken of how difficult it will be for the Super Eagles when they come face-to-face with their former manager Gernot Rohr, who now manages Benin.

The Super Eagles will play as guests of the Cheetahs of Benin in a 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Félix Houphouët Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on June 10.

Benin are at the bottom of the group with 1 point, having drawn one game and lost one. The Super Eagles occupy the third position with two points, having drawn their first two games.

Onyeka warns of tough challenge against Gernot Rohr's Benin

As the Super Eagles prepare for their crucial World Cup qualifier, the team is fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

Facing Benin, now managed by their former coach Rohr, adds an extra layer of complexity to the match.

Onyeka has acknowledged the difficulty of the upcoming game and the strength of African teams in general.

Speaking on the task at hand, Onyeka stressed the team's determination and focus.

“We know Gernot Rohr and it’s not going to be easy. The teams in Africa are not easy to play against, so we’ll go with all seriousness in the hopes that we get the win,” Onyeka told journalist Tobi Adepoju in a recent interview.

The 70-year-old German trainer, as many will recall, served as the manager of the Nigeria senior national team from 2016 to 2021. He was dismissed just before the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) began.

Nigeria stumbled at the AFCON three weeks after Rohr was let go, bowing out of the tournament in the Round of 16 with a defeat to Tunisia.

Few months later, the Super Eagles suffered a setback by failing to secure qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, allowing Ghana to claim the spot for Qatar instead.

Shortly after, Jose Peseiro was appointed as the new manager of the Super Eagles, replacing Austin Eguavoen, who had been serving in an interim capacity following Rohr's departure.

Interestingly, the Brentford man received his first call-up to the Nigeria national team on 22 September 2020 for friendly matches against Algeria and Tunisia in Austria on 5 and 9 October 2020, respectively.

He made his debut for the Nigeria national team in a friendly match, a 1–0 loss to Algeria on 9 October 2020. On 16 October 2023, he scored his first goal for his country in a 3–2 victory over Mozambique.

Since taking over the Benin job in February 2023, Rohr has played 10 games, winning one, drawing four and losing five.

Assessing Gernot Rohr's performance as Super Eagles Manager

Over the course of his tenure, which spanned five years, Rohr led the team through a total of 64 matches, leaving a significant imprint on Nigerian football.

He guided the Super Eagles to 35 victories, suffered 13 losses and endured 16 drawn games. One of the notable aspects of Rohr's tenure was his ability to maintain a winning percentage of 54.69%.

'Rohr won't make it easy' – Dynamic Frank Onyeka warns ahead of Benin 2026 World Cup qualifier
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Rohr guided the Super Eagles to the 2018 FIFA World Cup following a 1–0 victory against Zambia. Additionally, on July 17, 2019, he steered Nigeria to a third-place position in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

His tenure also saw the development and enhancement of several notable players who have become integral in the current setup.

While some of these players had already represented Nigeria at various youth levels before Rohr's arrival, it was under his guidance that they flourished and established themselves as key figures in the national team setup.

Players like Victor Osimhen, Alex Iwobi, Samuel Chukwueze, Joe Aribo,Francis Uzoho and Wilfred Ndidi, along with Ola Aina and William Troost-Ekong, are just a few who rose to prominence in the Super Eagles during Rohr's tenure.

Nigeria vs Benin H2H

Nigeria have faced Benin a total of 16 times, with their first encounter occurring on 17 February 1977 in an international friendly.

Nigeria won that match 7-0. Their most recent meeting was on 21 March 2021 at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, where the Super Eagles emerged victorious with a 1-0 scoreline. In all 16 games played, Nigeria have won 13, lost 1, and drawn 2.

Will Frank Onyeka recover in time for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers?

The Super Eagles have been plagued by injuries ahead of the crucial 2026 World Cup qualifiers, casting a shadow over their preparations.

Key players like Victor Osimhen, Tyronne Ebuehi, Moses Simon, Zaidu Sanusi, and Frank Onyeka are all battling fitness issues.

The potential absence of these pivotal players is a significant concern for Nigeria as they aim to secure their spot in the prestigious tournament.

Among the injured, Frank Onyeka's status remains uncertain. Onyeka, a vital cog in Nigeria's midfield, is currently dealing with a knock that has raised doubts about his availability for the upcoming qualifiers.

'Rohr won't make it easy' – Dynamic Frank Onyeka warns ahead of Benin 2026 World Cup qualifier
Photo by Icon Sport

Known for his defensive prowess and ability to transition play, Onyeka's presence in the squad is crucial for the Super Eagles’ strategy and overall performance.

Nigeria's World Cup campaign hinges on the availability of their top players. The 26- year-old's recovery will be a significant boost for the Super Eagles, bolstering their midfield strength and providing the stability needed to face their opponents.

Onyeka was one of Nigeria's top performers at the last Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu, a Ghanaian sports journalist, brings a dynamic perspective to the field with over a decade of experience. Having contributed to esteemed platforms such as Kickgh.com and Inkandkicks.com. Godfred is recognised for his insightful commentary and in-depth analysis of African football.
His passion for storytelling and commitment to accuracy have established him as a trusted authority in sports journalism in Ghana, captivating audiences with his engaging narratives and unparalleled expertise.
Godfred holds a degree in Integrated Development Studies (Social and Development Administration option) from the University for Development Studies, Ghana.