The Super Eagles were shocked 2-0 by Madagascar on Sunday, in their final Group B fixture at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.
Nigeria came into the match on top of the group with six points, following their consecutive 1-0 wins over Burundi and Guinea.
But Lalaina Nomenjanahary and Carolus Andriamahitsinoro gave the debutants a deserved 2-0 victory.
What are the five things we learnt from the match?
1. Rohr gets it wrong again: This is yet another game Gernot Rohr’s critics will file under ‘I told you so’. There was no clear game plan and at 1-0, his first substitution, was to take of John Ogu and bring on Wilfred Ndidi. A clear sign he wasn’t planning to force the issue. This was his first true test at the AFCON and he didn’t perform creditably.
2. Time to go, Mikel Obi: I think it’s time for John Mikel Obi to say his goodbyes. I’m not sure I ever want to see him in a Nigerian shirt again, even if it’s for a meaningless friendly. Mikel Obi was sluggish and sloppy, a weakness Madagascar preyed on to launch quick turnovers through the heart of the Super Eagles team. Thank you for the leadership and memories, Obi. But it’s over.
3. Madagascar deserved it: The debutants made it clear from the referee’s whistel, that they held no fear for their more illustrious opponents. The Barea swarmed around the Nigerian midfielders and defender with a vicious high press. It was the tactic that brought the first goal, as Leon Balogun was got flat-footed and Nomenjanahary rounded off Ezenwa in goal.
4. West African derby in Round of 16? With Nigeria finishing second, they will now face the country that will be runners-up in Group F. Cameroon currently lead that group and will likely win it, leaving second spot to either Benin, Guinea-Bissau or Ghana.
5. A case for defence? Leon Balogun was at fault for the first goal and looked totally uncomfortable throughout the game. Whether it was because of the error, is another matter entirely. But if the Brighton man’s confidence has taken a hit, then Rohr should start Kenneth Omeruo alongside William Troost-Ekong in the next round.