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Home grown is best - Gabon coach Rohr
Published : 26 Jan 2012 18:16:55
Gernot Rohr has lauded the merits of his 100 percent homegrown Gabon team who on Friday face a Morocco side motivated by the need for a win to inject life into their Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
Rohr's squad is made up of a dozen players plying their trade in the local championship.
Some of that number, like former Hull City striker Daniel Cousin, purposely returned home to play for local clubs to help the national cause at the 2012 Nations Cup.
And as Rohr proudly pointed out here Thursday on the eve of their second Group C run-out, all his squad are Gabonese through and through.
He compared this to the situation across the border with Nations Cup co-hosts and Nations Cup quarter-finalists Equatorial Guinea.
"In contrast to Equatorial Guinea none of our players are naturalised, they are pure Gabonese, with at least one of their parents born in Gabon.
"We didn't go if you like 'hunting' elsewhere to strengthen the team with other players.
"And the ones that have returned from Europe like Daniel Cousin to play locally have proved we have players prepared to make sacrifices to play in the national team."
The 58-year-old German believes this local-heavy weighting in his squad has helped cope with the hot and humid and therefore stamina-sapping conditions found on the equator.
Rohr, who played alongside Franz Beckenbauer at Bayern Munich in the mid-1970s, reported that only one of the side - defender Henri Ndong - who beat Niger 2-0 on Monday, would miss Friday's match-up with Morocco.
"Apart from Ndong I don't want to change a team that's already played well and has some confidence behind it. This is not the moment to risk something."
He is aware of the dangers posed by a Morocco side that need a win if they are to avoid elimination.
"I've told my players that if they think it's going to be easy (after impressing against Niger) then that's a false route to take. This is not the moment to think we're better than we are.
"We are humble, we don't have stars.
"So we're not scared, but conscious that Friday's game will be harder requiring even more effort and better play to beat a great rival."
Playing at home he added was a major factor in Gabon's favour.
"The pressure is on Morocco, it's not easy playing a team at home, with the support we get from our public, coupled with the desire and great motivation of the players."
He dismissed the notion that Gabon and Equatorial Guinea's cause was being eased by favourable refereeing decisions in their capacity as co-hosts of the continental showcase.
"We don't need help from the referees, we've already seen that they are not giving either us or Equatorial Guinea any presents."
Rohr concluded the press conference at Gabon's Libreville hotel by saying: "We are counting on the wave of confidence we're experiencing to sweep us to a higher level."