Gernot Rohr points to Bafana loss for Nigeria turnaround
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr confesses that a home defeat by South Africa in June served as a wake-up call for his team.
The German's team of young Super Eagles, depleted by a combination of injuries to senior members of the squad and Rohr's focus on picking and playing players below 25, lost 2-0 at home to Bafana Bafana in the opening game of the 2019 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers.
Remedial action was needed, and after some soul-searching and inquisition, Rohr corrected his bearings and the team promptly hammered Cameroon 4-0 in their very next game to consolidate their stranglehold on World Cup group leadership.
"That match was a big wake-up call for us," Rohr told the NFF. "Now that we have the World Cup ticket, we will go all out for the AFCON ticket and get it."
That response to adversity has left the German drooling about the squad he has at his disposal.
"I am very excited to be working with this team: a blend of the experienced and the young and ambitious ones. They are a delight to be with at all times, and I believe we are on to great things.
"At the beginning of the qualifying series, many people said we were going to be chasing it. But we sat down together and we promised ourselves that we would go all out and get the ticket.
"When you have a team that has so much self-belief, a lot of things are possible. Age is but a number. I feel young and able and willing to go on working with this group."
Rohr, whose record stands at played 10, won six, drawn four and lost one, has become only the second coach to lead Nigeria to World Cup qualification with one game to spare. The other was Frenchman Phillipe Troussier in 1997.