Gernot Rohr: It’s difficult to defeat Central African Republic

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has labelled the Central African Republic as a very physical team.

Rohr’s team suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Les Fauves in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying game last week but bounced back to win the reverse fixture 2-0.

Leon Balogun, who was partly to blame for the loss at Teslim Balogun Stadium last Thursday, prodded home Chidozie Awaziem’s long ball from close range to give the Super Eagles the lead in the 29th minute and just before the break, Victor Osimhen doubled the advantage with a tap-in off William Troost-Ekong’s square pass.

In the second-half, the three-time African champions were rarely afforded spaces and that made them unable to garner clear-cut goalscoring opportunities, though one lofted through ball created a chance for Osimhen to get his second of the game.

Speaking to NFF.TV shortly after the game, Rohr said Le Fauves were very aggressive, and that made life difficult for his team.

“It’s not easy to beat this Central African Republic. They made a lot of fouls, a lot. But fortunately, we don’t have any injuries,” the German said.

Rohr also praised his players for the victory, which ensures that Nigeria will go into the next qualifying game — against Liberia — with a two-point lead at the top of Group C.

“It was a good reaction from my team. We lost the other day. [We were] very unlucky in the last minute. So, everybody wanted to take a revenge [today]. They did it very well.”

At Japoma Main Stadium, the former Niger coach ditched the 4-4-2 formation he used last week, preferring a 3-5-2 style — with Chidozie Awaziem coming in to join Troost-Ekong and Balogun to form a back-three.

The formation, Rohr believes, played a role in the win.

“We changed the system. We played only three [defenders] at the back and this, with the leadership of Ahmed Musa, helped us win the game.”

Having secured the points in Douala, the tactician says his side will go into the final two games of the qualifying campaign — away to Liberia and at home against Cape Verde — with little pressure.

“Now, we can calmly prepare for the next games in November and I hope that everything will be fine at the end of the day.”

Mfoniso Williams

Passionate Nigerian football writer who, for many years, has travelled across Nigeria to cover league games.

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