Former Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has claimed that he was impressed by the performance of Taiwo Awoniyi for the Super Eagles at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
With the top three players in the pecking order of center forwards not available for selection namely Victor Osimhen, Odion Ighalo and Paul Onuachu due to a combination of injuries and non-release by their foreign clubs, Awoniyi had to shoulder the goalscoring burden for the Super Eagles in Cameroon.
For all his good work in hold up play and being a nuisance to the opponents’ defences, in truth, the Union Berlin striker statistically did not make any meaningful impact at the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring a goal he knew nothing about in 214 minutes of action spread across three matches.
However, Rohr, who handed a debut to Awoniyi last October, thinks otherwise, saying the former Liverpool man had a good tournament and explained why the four-cap Nigeria international didn’t gel with his Super Eagles teammates.
“Nigeria was disappointing – losing to a weakened Tunisia in the round of 16 came as a surprise. Although Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin played a very good tournament,” Rohr said to Sportschau, a German sports magazine on broadcaster ARD.
“You could see his potential, but there was still a lack of coordination with the team – he hasn’t been there very long.”
Awoniyi was in brilliant form before linking up with the Nigeria squad for AFCON 2021 with a goal involvement of seventeen in 27 matches across all competitions.