Nigeria have parted ways with head coach Gernot Rohr after a string of uninspiring performances in World Cup qualifying.
A home loss to Central African Republic, ranked 124 in the world, and a nervy home draw against Cape Verde in the final game of the series, left the coach under immense pressure from both fans and media.
Although the Super Eagles only needed that draw to qualify, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) sources told ESPN that a win was what was expected and the jittery nature of the result proved ultimately unacceptable. Despite securing qualification for the final round of World Cup qualifying, the NFF held a crisis meeting with the coach where he was given the option to resign, a request that was promptly turned down.
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After nearly two weeks of speculation, in which the federation were forced to deny that the Rohr had been sacked, general secretary Mohammed Sanusi said in a statement on Sunday, "The relationship between the Nigeria Football Federation and Mr Rohr has come to an end. We thank him for his services to the Super Eagles and Nigeria."
Former national team captain Augustine Eguavoen, who coached the team to a bronze medal place at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has been placed in temporary charge. Eguavoen also served in the same interim capacity in 2010 after the departure of Lars Lagerback, before Samson Siasia was appointed.
Eguavoen, who is currently the NFF's technical director, will be assisted by three members of Rohr's technical staff, Salisu Yusuf, Joseph Yobo and Aloysius Agu. In addition, he will have Paul Aigbogun, who is in charge of the B team and Terry Eguaoje, the NFF's technical consultant, as assistants.
Former Nigeria captains Augustine "Jay Jay" Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu, along with former international Garba Lawal, have been appointed to provide technical and ambassadorial support for the crew.
According to the NFF, the 56-year-old Eguavoen, who was on-field captain when the Super Eagles won the 1994 AFCON, will take charge of the team as it begins preparations for next year's tournament, and until the appointment of a substantive head coach.
It is unclear when that will be and whether the new coach will be in charge for the tournament or after.
The decision marks the end of a tempestuous last few weeks between the federation and Rohr, who was appointed in August 2016 and became Nigeria's longest serving coach at five years and four months by the time he was fired.
Taking over after Nigeria's failure to reach successive AFCON tournaments, Rohr qualified the team for both the 2018 World Cup and 2019 AFCON with games to spare, and led them to a third place finish in Egypt. He also qualified them for the 2022 AFCON and remained on course to do so for the 2022 World Cup
Rohr was understandably defiant about his accomplishment.
"We played eight official matches in 2021, and we have six wins, one draw and one loss. We won our four away matches," he said in a statement on Sunday.