Gernot Rohr has likened Nigeria’s draw with Cape Verde in their final 2022 FIFA World Cup Group C qualifier to “a victory” as it ensured Nigeria’s progression to the final round of qualifying.
The Super Eagles needed to avoid defeat against the Blue Sharks to make sure of their place in the playoff round and the three-time African champions duly battled to a nervy 1-1 draw at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
Striker Victor Osimhen profited off a defensive error to give Nigeria the lead just seconds into the encounter but the visitors struck back five minutes later to restore parity.
The Super Eagles missed a host of chances to restore their lead in the first half and had to endure a nail-biting finish to the game as Cape Verde pressed for the winner.
In the end, Nigeria did just enough to hold on barely scraping through to the next round. Their performance, however, as has been the case for much of the qualifying campaign, was severely criticised by many fans concerned about the team’s chances of making it to Qatar.
For Gernot Rohr, it was mission accomplished and the fact that Nigeria failed to win at home against a supposedly inferior opposition for the second game in a row, not much course for concern.
“First of all, sometimes a draw can be like a victory,” Rohr said following the game. That was the case today because we wanted to qualify, and we knew that a draw was already qualification.”
“It was not an easy game. Cape Verde has a very good technical team, and they scored a goal in a moment when we believed we had the game in our hands. We missed a lot of chances in the first half especially, and I think that we deserved to score a second goal. The second goal was not coming, so we had to defend this draw, and the players did this well.”
Nigeria will find out their playoffs opponents when draws are held on 18 December. The other qualifiers are Morocco, Egypt, Mali, Senegal, Tunisia, Congo DR, Ghana, Algeria, and Cameroon.
The draws will see the five top ranked teams seeded to face the bottom five teams in a two-legged, home-and-away format with the five aggregate winners sealing their place at Qatar 2022.