The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has backed the Super Eagles to bounce back from their shocking defeat to lowly-rated Central African Republic (CAR) in a 2022 World Cup Qualifier.
A 90th minute goal from Karl Namnganda, who plays in the French fourth division, condemned the three-time African champions to a loss in front of a limited home crowd in Lagos on Thursday.
But the President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick, who spoke shortly after the game, is optimistic that Gernot Rohr’s men would come out better in the return leg of the encounter in Douala, Cameroon on Sunday.
“Everyone is stunned, but we do not have to be emotional or negative about things. The same team defeated Liberia here in Lagos and Cape Verde away. They still have that ability to deliver,” Pinnick was quoted as saying in a post on the Federation’s social media handles.
“As a Football Federation, we take responsibility for this defeat. We believe things will change positively in three days. We also believe that this loss is a massive wake-up call and could be the springboard to reset and motivate the team to keep giving their all to not only qualify for the World Cup but to perform well in Qatar.”
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Banking On ‘The Nigerian Spirit’
Pinnick, who thanked the Federal Government and other partners for their support to the team, noted that the NFF provided an enabling environment for the team ahead of the clash with the Wild Beasts of Central African Republic.
According to him, Thursday’s loss was a surprise.
“This result has been a huge shock, especially after the NFF provided everything necessary to make the team comfortable and focused on the task at hand, even going the extra mile in a number of areas,” the former Delta Football Association boss, added.
Despite the defeat at home, Nigeria lead Group C of the African qualification series. They have six points from three games, two more than second-placed Cape Verde and the Central African Republic.
A win in the return fixture against CAR will take Nigeria a step closer to the final round of qualifiers, something the NFF boss believes the team can do.
“This [CAR defeat] is a setback, which can be quickly reversed, and the Nigerian Spirit is what we will take to Cameroon,” he insisted.
“The NFF is backing the team to retain a strong hold on the group and qualify to the knockout phase.”