PROVERBIAL HALF-BREAD is better than none, seems to be Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr’s pledge to the players before the Tunisian encounter.  He told a post-match news conference: “I told the players that winning a small final was better than losing a big one”.

It was not the proverbial half-bread that Nigerian Super Eagles, which analysts believe was seemingly best and most favoured team to lift the Afcon 2019, trophy,  fixed their mind on before the commencement of the tournament.

But Gernot Rohr, in the post-match new conference said he was satisfied with the team’s performance that earned it third-place finish, and was very positive about the future of the team.

“We are satisfied with third place. We managed to beat Africa’s second-best team. It was hard, so we are good with it. I told the players that winning a small final was better than losing a big one. I am very positive about the future.

“At the beginning of the tournament, we didn’t do well. But after that our performance evolved. Tunisia has been waiting for a semi-final since 2004, and here we are in a 24-team tournament. We have lots of hope for the next AFCON and for the World Cup,” he said.


Perhaps, lack of purpose, tactical depth of team handles and rambling on non-payment of allowances to the players, took the shine out of the team.  The matches, especially, against Madagascar and Algeria, revealed technical deficiency of Nigeria’s coaching crew.

Skillful technical response to difficult matches – such as Madagascar and Algeria match, would have made the difference for the Super Eagles.  It was obvious, Ahmed Musa, and wiz-kid winger Chukwueze’s runs from the wings were neutralised by Algeria, and Odion Ighalo was left roaming, looking for good supply of balls from the wings to finish-up clinically, at his best.

Analysts, expected Gernot Rohr to have changed his team’s formation after the first-half break to get Nigeria out of Algeria’s cage. None of that was seen.  Then came, the needless substitutions that added no impetus to the game, and Algeria took advantage of it, beat Nigeria 2—1, and cruised into final.


While Algeria came into the match with game plan, Nigeria was relying on history records – that Nigeria have always been at an advantage in competitive matches against Algeria – even at home-and-away.  Football marches are no longer won that way, but on specific game plans.

Odion Ighalo, again, was the man of the third-place match against Tunisia, on Wednesday. His early goal in the third minute gave Nigeria a 1-0 win over Tunisia.  He capitalised on Tunisian defensive mix-up to tap-in the only goal of the march, and in the first three minutes of the match.

Igbalo is the leading goal scorer of the competition, with five goals. He could not finish 90 minutes of the Tunisian encounter due to hamstring injury.  Victor Osimhen replaced Igbalo at half time.  Super Eagles, returning home with Bronze Medal, at Total African Cup of Nations, Egypt 2019, no doubt, is half-bread better than none.