MADAGASCAR DESERVED TO WIN- ROHR
By Samuel Victor Akpan
After surprisingly going down 2-0 to competition debutants Madagascar in their final group game at the on-going AFCON tournament in Egypt, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has said the Madagascans were full value for victory.
Speaking after the game, Rohr described the Madagascans as "the better team" insisting they showed the "fighting spirit" that the Super Eagles lacked on the day.
"Madagascar deserved to win this match, they were the better team today", said Rohr. "We had possession of the ball but it was not really a good football, it was too slow, we miss this fighting spirit that (they) showed us today Madagascar", added the German.
Speaking further, the gaffer said: "you know when a team is already qualified, in the mind, they played to win of course but they don't have this voluntary desire (which) is what I saw in the Madagascan team".
A goal in each half from Carolus Andriamahitsinoro and Nomenjanahary was enough to hand the competition minnows a historic win against one of Africa's superpowers and pre-tournament favourites, moreso at the continent's showpiece event.
Rohr had made five changes to the side that defeated Guinea 1-0 in their previous match as he looked to hand game time to some of his players following qualification for the next round. Alas, it was experienced defender Leon Balogun that inexplicably fumbled a pass to allow the Island nation the opener.
The Brighton and Hove Albion defender misjudged a pass to let in Nomenjanahary who coolly rounded goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa before slotting into the net on 12minutes as the Super Eagles conceded for the first time in the tournament.
Things went from bad to worse for Nigeria as Nicholas Dupuis' side struck again early on in the second half courtesy of a deflected free-kick from Lalaina Andriamahitsinoro.
Despite a desperate rally from then on, the Super Eagles could not find a breakthrough as they were frustrated by their opponents who finish the group stage top and unbeaten. The Nigerians on the other hand again failed to record maximum wins at AFCON group stages.
When quizzed on the changes made in the game and the possibility of changing his playing style in the upcoming games in the tournament, Rohr said, "we wanted to give some rest to five of our players, thats what we did. I didn't want to lose one player to injury or second yellow card, it is OK so everybody will be here."
Describing the next game as "more important", Rohr assured that the team will prepare very well for the game and that the defeat was a wake up call, one that he says has shown the players that it isn't easy to win the matches in this AFCON tournament.