Nigeria coach, Gernot Rohr, has said Nigerians should not feel ashamed losing to Madagascar while trying to explain the reasons for for the Super Eagles shocking 2-0 defeat to the small island nation at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.
Rohr who admitted that his players performed below-par, was however quick to state that the Madagascar team also played and there was nothing to be ashamed of, “losing to the team that first secured qualification for AFCON in 2019.”
Sunday’s defeat saw Nigeria unexpectedly finishing as Group B runners-up.
Lalaina Nomenjanahary broke the deadlock in the 13th minute after benefitting from a defensive slip from Leon Balogun.
The three-time African champions found it difficult to score an equaliser and Carolus Andriamahitsinoro doubled the lead for Madagascar with his deflected free-kick in the 53rd minute.
Rohr said in his post-match interview said: “We lost to a good team because Madagascar was the first to qualify for the tournament and there is no shame in losing to such a team.
“Madagascar was the better team today (Sunday). We started with giving them a gift and after, we could not find a solution. We made five changes because we wanted to give a rest to some players and also preserve those with cards.
“Sometimes it happens when you are already qualified; the players are relaxed and playing easy.”
As runners-up in their group, Nigeria will now face the second placed team in Group F, which has Cameroon and Ghana as well as Benin Republic and Equatorial Guinea.