Nigeria in shock after home loss to lowly Central African Republic
Nigeria is reeling after a shock 1-0 defeat by lowly-ranked Central African Republic in a World Cup qualifier, the first time they have lost at home in the competition for 40 years.
Substitute Karl Namnganda snatched a late winner to give the Wild Beasts of Central African Republic, ranked 124th in the world by FIFA, a famous victory in Lagos on Thursday.
Angry fans in Lagos booed the Super Eagles with some even throwing objects at the players at the end of the match.
It was Nigeria’s first home loss in a World Cup qualifier since October 10, 1981, when they lost 2-0 to Algeria in Lagos.
Coach Gernot Rohr said the team were disappointed by the shock defeat and promised changes when both teams clash again on Sunday in Douala, Cameroon.
“The players are still disappointed and still can’t understand why we could lose this match,” said the 68-year-old German, who has been in charge of the team since 2016 and led the Super Eagles to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“We dominated possession of the ball, we had several opportunities to score, but we did not score and very often in football, there was a counter and our opponents scored.
“We have to recover, and we have to make some changes in the team.”
Nigeria Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick said the loss was “a huge shock”, but expressed confidence the Super Eagles will still qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Former international Godwin Okpara said the team lacked “spirit”.
“The approach to this game was very poor. We only started chasing the game when we conceded a goal,” he said.
Rohr was the main target of the fans’ anger with some demanding he be sacked.
“We have an ordinary team with a coach who cannot take us any farther,” said Sunday Okoro, a supporter who watched the game at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
“Rohr has over-stayed his welcome.”
Nigeria still top Group C with six points from three matches, two points ahead of closest rivals Cape Verde and Central African Republic.
The overall winners of the group will advance to a final playoff to be played on a knockout basis in March 2022 for a spot at the finals in Qatar.