Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr under pressure again after Super Eagles' defeat by Central African Republic

Gernot Rohr's position as Nigeria coach is in question -- once again -- after the Super Eagles lost 1-0 at home to Central African Republic in World Cup qualifying. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

Nigeria's shock 1-0 home loss to Central African Republic in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying on Thursday has put Gernot Rohr's job as Super Eagles coach in immediate peril.

The Super Eagles, ranked No. 34 in the world, dominated possession but created only a few chances in a disjointed performance; they also looked brittle when defending the counterattack from the pacy visitors, who are ranked 90 places below them.

On the rare occasions when they did fashion opportunities -- with Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi going close -- they met inspired resistance from goalkeeper Prince Samolah,

They were made to pay deep into stoppage-time, when Karl Namnganda slipped between centrebacks William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun to beat Francis Uzoho from close range.

CAR, who have never won a World Cup qualifier away from home, and who were without a win since November 2020, thus became the first team to defeat Nigeria in World Cup qualifying since Angola in 2004. Nigeria had racked up 26 wins and 12 draws in that 38-match unbeaten run.

The result saw fans and media pundits demanding the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) sack the German, who only last month replaced Clemens Westerhof as the Super Eagles' longest-serving coach.


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Discontent with Rohr has been simmering since Nigeria's elimination at the hands of Argentina at the World Cup in 2018, when the Super Eagles needed only a draw to advance but conceded a late goal to bow out.

The dissatisfaction escalated when Nigeria squandered a 4-1 lead and drew 4-4 at home to Sierra Leone in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, and it grew more stringent after they played badly but squeaked out a 2-1 win at Cape Verde in September, when they were helped in large part by the hosts profligacy in front of goal.

Former Nigeria midfielder Mutiu Adepoju described the defeat by CAR as "disappointing" and said "questions will be asked to know why and what happened".

"Whether it's a question or a query, there is no federation that will lose a game and not take actions to guide against future occurrence," Adepoju told Goal.

"I don't know about the query for Rohr but people will ask questions if you lose the game you are expected to win."

A member of the NFF board, speaking off the record to ESPN, said that pressure would be put on NFF president Amaju Pinnick to sack Rohr, as demanded by fans, if the team did not improve significantly in the return leg on four days time

That pressure appears to have got to Pinnick, who issued a statement on Friday backing the team to bounce back and taking responsibility for the defeat. It is not clear if "responsibility" referenced the eight months of unpaid wages owed to the coach, five of which were paid just before the game against CAR.

"Everyone is stunned, but we do not have to be emotional or negative about things," Pinnick said.

"The same team defeated Liberia here in Lagos and Cape Verde away. They still have that ability to deliver. As a football federation, we take responsibility for this defeat. We believe things will change positively in three days. We also believe that this loss is a massive wake-up call and could be the springboard to reset and motivate the team to keep giving their all to not only qualify for the World Cup but to perform well in Qatar."

Pinnick's statement made no mention of Rohr, however.

"This result has been a huge shock, especially after the NFF provided everything necessary to make the team comfortable and focused on the task at hand, even going the extra mile in a number of areas," he said.

"This is a setback, which can be quickly reversed, and the Nigerian spirit is what we will take to Cameroon. The NFF is backing the team to retain a strong hold on the group and qualify to the knockout phase.

"At the halfway mark of this phase, our Super Eagles still top the group. I am in touch with even the players that are injured like Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Alex Iwobi. They are all very sad with the result. The players who featured in today's match are all very sober and sad. They know what is important now is their reaction to the situation when they take to the pitch in Douala on Sunday. We believe they will deliver against the same team."

As things stand, "deliver" appears to be the only way for Rohr to relieve the pressure. At least for the moment.