The humiliating defeat by less fancied Central African Republic may not have been served cold to NPFL players, IKENWA NNABUOGOR argues…
The last time Nigeria’s senior national team were embarrassed at home was in 1981, same city, same month, different venue, same anguish and shamefully by a very lowly-ranked team.
The Eagles who lost 40 years ago to Algeria were green with disappointment, while the Eagles of today that lost to Central African Republic were totally super in humiliation.
Times have changed and hardly are there minnows in world football, but it was unthinkable for CAR to ambush Eagles before their home fans with a bad defeat that will take eternity to forget.
The stark reality of this defeat is the fact Nigeria’s top professionals playing most for top European clubs were soundly and competently beaten by a bunch of players playing in France and for fourth-tier clubs.
The Central Africans actually lived up to their name – Wild Beasts – as they showed no respect to their big brothers and hunted down the bewildered Eagles, whose wings were seriously clipped to size.
Shame that pros with fine records from top European clubs including an African transfer record were humbled by a country, whose compass could hardly find a FIFA ranking map.
The big questions are now…
Why spend so much tax-payers’ money to bring these pros from Europe to be served a hot-steaming defeat by a bunch of home-based players?
Doesn’t it amount to a colossal waste of funds when the country is in serious economic distress?
Why weren’t NPFL players called up to prosecute this game?
Why was this game so difficult for the country’s “best legs” to at least win by an odd goal?
Though, it could be argued that the NPFL is on break and as such the players could be lacking in the required competitiveness for a game of such magnitude, then a defeat is a defeat and no excuse should be made.
The hunger and determination were visibly palpable in the visitors and that can also be expected of NPFL players going into this game and the worst case scenario result could be even spoils.
NPFL players got a lot to prove to shake off their not-good-enough tag that has trailed them since the current coach Gernot Rohr assumed duties six years ago.
The visitors are no better – their home league is nowhere near the NPFL’s and yet they came here to do the unthinkable against pros from Europe’s and world’s best.
From the blast of the whistle, it was clear CAR were here for a tactical war despite not parading any known name and the result was there for all to see whose coach won the tactical war.
Perhaps, the biggest tactical gamble would have been to play NPFL players in this game and take the responsibility.
But alas, Rohr would have none of that and his trusted men conspired to let him down especially when the country should be cruising to the third and final round on the road to Qatar.
This is indeed the worst result Eagles have ever had in recent times and will never be erased from the country’s football history.
It’s the high time Rohr spared some thought for the NPFL players going forward.