Since their first international in 1949, the Eagles have suffered a string of heartbreaking home defeats.
Nigeria has a rich football history dating back to 1949, and in 72 years of competing in World Cup, Nations Cup qualifiers, or friendly matches, the Eagles have won far more than they have lost, particularly on home soil.
The Nigeria national football team was humbled by the football team of a country that did not exist when they started playing football—the Central African Republic—on the 72nd anniversary of Nigeria’s first international football match against Sierra Leone in Freetown.
Premium Times dusted off the records and analysed the five most humiliating home defeats suffered by the Eagles and it was not surprising the current manager, Gernot Rohr has been in charge of two of the five.
In the 52 matches Rohr has been in charge of the Eagles, he has masterminded 13 losses.
1. October 7, 2021: Nigeria v C.A.R @Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos
With the pedigree and status of the Super Eagles; the question for most football fans before the match was not whether the Eagles could beat the Central African Republic, but by how many goals. At the end of the game on Thursday, the country found out the truism behind never counting your chickens before the eggs are hatched.
Sloppy defending in the last minute by Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong allowed the goal that condemned the Eagles to a first home defeat in a FIFA World Cup qualifier at home in 25 years. The Eagles boast of a FIFA ranking of 34, compared to CAR’s 124th place.
2. June 10, 2017: Nigeria v South Africa @Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo
Another of Rohr’s records was the 2-0 loss to the Bafana Bafana of South Africa at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in a Nations Cup qualifier. Two second half goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau condemned Rohr to a first-ever defeat as coach of the Super Eagles.
Considering the rivalry that had developed between the two teams since the abolishment of apartheid, it was one that rubbed dirt on the noses of the Nigerians, right on their homestead.
3. October 10, 1981: Nigeria v Algeria @National Stadium, Lagos
There was still the hangover of winning a first-ever Nations Cup title in 1980 and the conquered team was an Algeria side battered 3-0 in the final so there was distinct hope the Eagles would get another victory but it was not to be.
With the hope that the 1980-winning side could make the step up and qualify for the World Cup, the captain, Christian Chukwu was brought back from retirement and it all backfired as two first half goals from Lakhdar Belloumi and Djamel Zidane took Algeria half way to Espana 82. The second leg ended 2-1 in favour of the Algerians.
February 13, 2000: Nigeria v Cameroon @National Stadium, Lagos
It was the final of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations and the opponent was fierce rivals, Cameroon and the Eagles were in search of a pound of flesh after the indomitable Lions had denied the Eagles the AFCON trophy in 1984, 1988 and also denied the Nigerians passage to the 1990 World Cup.
From two goals down, the Eagles came back through Chukwu Ndukwe and Austin Okocha but the crossbar seemingly denied Victor Ikpeba in the penalty shootout. There was not a dry Nigerian eye in Surulere that day.
November 12, 1977: Nigeria v Tunisia @National Stadium, Lagos
This was the last leg of qualifiers for the 1978 FIFA World Cup that was held in Argentina and the Eagles boasted a star-studded team that included Christian Chukwu, Segun Odegbami, and Emmanuel Okala.
The first leg had ended 0-0 in Tunis and all the Eagles needed was any margin of victory but it was settled in Tunisia’s favour by an own goal from Godwin Odiye in the 61st minute.
For many years after this, anyone who scored an own goal was christened an Odiye.