Gernot Rohr pleased with young Super Eagles despite wobble
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has praised the effort and quality of his young team after they secured a vital 3-2 road win against Libya in Sfax on Tuesday, thus taking a step closer towards booking their spot at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon next year.
The Super Eagles were missing a number of first-team regulars for the qualifier through injury, notably experienced pair John Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi, and for long periods chased the game, but ultimately secured a double-header victory.
Speaking with reporters after the encounter, Rohr suggested he was satisfied with the team's performance, despite needing a late winner, in difficult conditions.
The German said: "Today the other team played with more caution at the back. They were aware of our threat on the counter which didn't allow for them to give us so much space to exploit.
"The pitch here is much smaller in comparison to our home ground at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, a turf which we enjoy playing on, as we express ourselves better due to the space."
The Nigerians seemed to be in cruise control early on at the Stade Taieb Mhiri, racing into an early two-nil lead, while playing some eye-catching football.
However, a combination of questionable goalkeeping from Francis Uzoho and a total midfield collapse dragged the North Africans back to parity with 16 minutes remaining.
Despite the scare, Odion Ighalo bailed his team out with a composed left-footed 81st-minute match-winner - his brace on the night - as Nigeria moved into the driving seat in Group E.
While acknowledging Nigeria almost blew their chances of going top of the group with their second-half struggles, Rohr credited the opposition for handing his young and largely inexperienced Super Eagles team a tough fight.
"It was a demanding second-half and ultimately a difficult victory for us," he said, "but these difficult victories can help our young team learn in experience and give confidence as we look to take valuable lessons from our latest conquest.
"We played against a very good Libyan team. Despite the loss, they aren't eliminated just yet and I believe they can still do something in their final two matches.
"Next up for us is a trip to South Africa, where we will look to play a beautiful football match against Bafana Bafana, to achieve our qualification objective," the manager concluded.
The Super Eagles and Bafana will clash on 16 November in Atteridgeville, South Africa.