ALEXANDRIA – Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr has blamed his players for Nigeria’s shock 2-0 loss to Africa Cup of Nations debutants Madagascar which saw them finish runners up to the tiny Island nation in Group B.
Nigeria needed a draw to top the group but goals either side of half time from Lalaina Nomenjanahary and Carolus Andriamahitsinoro handed lowly Madagascar a first ever win against the three-times champions and Rohr pointed the finger at his players for the manner in which they conceded the first goal in particular.
John Ogu making his first appearance of the tournament played a weak pass across the backline which sold Leon Balogun short and Balogun’s ill-advised attempt to shield the ball was foiled by Lalaina Nomenjanahary who dribbled past Ikechukwu Ezenwa to score.
“Madagascar were the better side and deserved to win, but the first goal they scored was a wonderful gift to them I must say,” Rohr told the media at the post-match press conference.
Nigeria’s coach had made five changes to the team that beat Guinea 1-0 last Wednesday with Ogu, Samuel Kalu, Ezenwa all taking to the field for the first time in Egypt while captain Mikel Obi and defender William Troost-Ekong restored to the starting line up.
And Rohr suggested that the players who came into the team might have failed to take their chance.
“I wanted to see other players which was why I made five changes and that was perhaps why we were dominated by Madagascar. We have to work hard for the next match because that is more important.”
Nigeria’s loss means that they will play the runners up in Group F in Alexandria on the 6th of July.