Nigeria coach still Gernot Rohr under pressure despite World Cup qualifier success

Marcotti: Italy have no excuses for qualification blunder (1:35)

Gab Marcotti believes Italy only have themselves to blame for missing out on automatic qualification for the World Cup. (1:35)

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr finds himself under sustained pressure, despite steering the team to the playoff round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Four points were the minimum required for the Super Eagles to advance, and also what the team just-just managed, with a 2-0 win over Sierra Leone in the first of the two final matches, followed by a 1-1 draw with Cape Verde at home on Tuesday.

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen had given the Super Eagles the lead within the opening minute of the game, taking his tally to four goals for the series.

But Cape Verde were level within five minutes. Defender Stopyra took advantage of statue-like marking on a corner kick by Nigeria to slip in and poke home from close range.

The final few minutes were heart-in-mouth for fans at the stadium as the visitors mounted an onslaught on the Nigeria goal, forcing Rohr to thrown in Brentford's Frank Onyeka to help stem the tide.

Former international Jonathan Akpoborie voiced the feelings around the country, telling ESPN: "To be really honest, our Super Eagles are playing like a team without a coach."

Former NFF board member Christopher Green was even more scathing: "To most Nigerians, to continue to see the Eagles perform this way gives a lot of heartache.

"Our football is suffering. Rohr has done a lot damage to our game because the Super Eagles is Nigerian's flagship in world football.

"We need the best for our team at every time, no sentiments. For the first time we can see the majority of journalists, commentators and a cross section of Nigerians agreeing that the Super Eagles have not improved over five years with Rohr in the saddle.

"Can't our football administrators in the NFF see that the ship is sinking? The signs are ominous and the air is delicate. It is not late to change."

Sources told ESPN that a crisis meeting between the NFF Executive Committee and it's Technical and Development Committee was held after the Cape Verde game, where Rohr's future was extensively discussed, with the decision to keep him on only made because the NFF would not be able to afford his termination penalty fee.

But Rohr defended his position, arguing that he enjoys support from Nigerians.

"A lot of people say that we play well in the first half, that we could manage very difficult situation in these qualifiers," he told ESPN.

"They recognize that we did a miracle that we could go to win in Cape Verde with a second team two months ago, that we could react after the faux pas against CAR three days later and we did so well."

The coach went ahead to emphasise his record with Nigeria. Since taking over as Super Eagles coach in 2016, Rohr has guided the team through two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and two World Cup qualifiers, including the current one, and he argued that his record stacks up well.

He said: "Look at our results. I say we are here to make results, to be effective. It is not giving anything to play beautiful football and to lose. It will be worse for everybody.

"What is the most important is to have the results. We never lost an away qualifier in five years. We had 24 qualifiers to play, 12 for Afcon twice, 12 for the World Cup twice. We lost twice at home and we had five draws."

The coach did admit that his team needs to improve defensively: "We made some mistakes. We have to avoid these mistakes, because if you see the goals against us, they were mistakes. We have to improve. Sometimes you improve with the same players, sometimes with other players.

"We conceded only three goals in six matches. But all these three goals was mistakes. So we have to work on it. We have other players to try to look at."

Over the last two years, Rohr has been owed wages for up to eight months, and allowances for almost a year. Recently, the NFF made a decision to stop paying allowances to his assistants.

In the meantime, Rohr says he is shutting out the noise and preparing to get his team together by the end of December to start preparation for the Afcon in Cameroon in late January, although he did suggest that he may not be there for the tournament.

He said: "My proposal is for us to camp in Nigeria at the end of December top start 28th and then friendly in the country and then go early to Cameroon where we have very good conditions to prepare in Garoua where our team is playing.

"But let us see if I can still decide if we are preparing. We will see."