'Outrage' as Nigeria reacts to shock CAR home defeat

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CAR's Karl Namnganda inflicts one of Nigeria's worst home defeats in historyCAR's Karl Namnganda inflicts one of Nigeria's worst home defeats in history

In Nigeria, there are feverish expectations on the team to win - every time.

So when a country of nearly 200m, bidding to reach a seventh World Cup out of the last eight, loses a World Cup qualifier at home for the first time in 40 years, the anguish is intense.

Yet it only gets deeper when the team inflicting your defeat is ranked 124th in the world, as Central African Republic - who shocked Lagos' Teslim Balogun Stadium and the country beyond with a 91st-minute winner - are.

"We are the ones who played and are in deep pain," defender Leon Balogun told BBC Sport Africa.

The last World Cup defeat dated back to 1981 when beaten 2-0 by Algeria, a credible side who had finished runners-up to champions Nigeria at the previous year's Nations Cup and who would impress at the 1982 World Cup.

The only other home World Cup loss in Nigeria's history came in 1977 when Tunisia won 1-0 to reach their first World Cup.

"Outrage as Central African Republic stun Eagles in Lagos," read The Guardian's back page, with a similar theme dominating the country's newspaper pages.

"Wild Beasts devour Eagles in Lagos. Fans express displeasure, call for Rohr's sack," wrote The Nation, with the latter sentiment shared widely across radio and TV stations on Friday.

After the defeat to the team nick-named the 'Wild Beasts', incensed Nigeria fans caused chaos outside the stadium as officials kept the team bus away from disappointed and enraged supporters.

The players were given riot police protection with the team bus escorted by armed security personnel on a 10-kilometre journey away from the stadium en route to the hotel.

First-rate fourth-tier finish

CAR secured one of their most famous wins through a substitute who plays in the fourth tier of French football.

Les Herbiers' Karl Namnganda latched on to a hopeful long ball forward as it fell between two defenders - Balogun and William Troost-Ekong - to coolly drive home in stoppage time for an unforgettable winner.

Nigeria coach Gernot RohrNigeria coach Gernot Rohr and his players have come under fire after losing to CAR in Lagos

Experienced international Balogun was heavily criticised for his role in the goal, like his partner, and says the team is just as disheartened to have conceded so late in a game they should have won.

"The players are more disappointed because we are the ones affected the most," he said.

"We missed chances and should have taken the ones we had. We should have more demands on ourselves to do better than we did. The best thing now is that we know them."

Nigeria play CAR again on Sunday in neutral Cameroon, with CAR's home stadium unfit to host international matches.

"We have another chance to fix whatever happened on Thursday," Balogun said. "I want the fans to know that we the players are in pain just like the fans.

"I understand how powerful football is here but we are the ones who suffer the most, tackles and all that. Sunday is another chance to sort this out."

Former Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo echoed the theme in the Nigerian camp.

"We are disappointed," he said. "We played and tried to create chances but they parked the bus. It's not easy to break a team down like that. We know them now, they are fast, purposeful and organised - we know what to expect."

"I understand the frustration of the fans. Before playing for the team I was a fan and understand that. We are disappointed not to give them result. It's football and at the end of the day we want to go the World Cup - we must keep the focus."

Asked if this Nigeria team - still top of Group C but now by only two points - is a pale shadow of former sides in the land of the three-time African champions, Omeruo rallied back.

"The fear factor is not gone, we have fantastic players and sometimes it goes against you."


From Oluwashina Okeleji

Coach Gernot Rohr made headlines before the game after reports emerged of his going unpaid for eight months. The cash-strapped NFF quickly paid five months through one of their sponsors.

The embarrassing defeat puts the veteran German further under the spotlight. Questions over team selections, style of play and attitude has been criticised by the media.

Sunday's game against CAR is now a must-win. Rohr's contract is until the World Cup but he needs results now to save his job.

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