Nigeria were beaten 1-0 in Lagos in a game many supporters expected them to win fairly easily.
The Super Eagles had picked up maximum points from their opening two games and could have edged further away from the sides below them to consolidate first spot.
Should the NFF consider Gernot Rohr’s future as Nigeria head coach after the Super Eagles’ defeat at home by the Central African Republic in World Cup qualifying?
— Goal Africa (@GoalAfrica October 8, 2021
In the end, Karl Namnganda scored in second-half stoppage time to stun the Super Eagles and silence the home crowd.
While this eventually reverted to normal in the second half, the opening half intermittently saw the Super Eagles play out from the back in a back three.
Frank Onyeka tended to drop between the centre-backs — William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun — thus seeing the home side’s shape morph from a back four to a three.
On other occasions before the interval, the team’s shape resembled a 2-4-4 when the central defenders had possession.
Whether this was by design or otherwise remains to be seen, but it was fascinating to watch, nonetheless.
As expected, during and after the game, Rohr’s tactical astuteness was called into question.
While the performance of the side caused understandable annoyance, it’d be remiss to not point out some noteworthy facets of Nigeria’s play particularly out wide.
In the first half, the majority of the Super Eagles’ attacks were funnelled down the right flank and how situations played out were quite interesting.
At times, Ola Aina stayed narrower while Moses Simon hugged the touchline and vice-versa on other occasions.
In some instances, the Torino wide defender joined the Nantes attacker out wide to create overloads on that side.
After half-time, there seemed to be a greater emphasis on the nominal wingers — Chidera Ejuke and Simon — tucking in to allow room for the full-backs to bomb forward.
Admittedly, the attackers intermittently played as natural wingers, but they seemed more interested in drifting infield rather than hug the line.
It was from this position as an inside left that Ejuke released Victor Osimhen minutes after the break and the Napoli marksman inadvertently hit the woodwork with a cross.
It’ll be interesting to see if this approach will be utilised going forward.