Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr has praised the home-based Super Eagles’ performance despite a 4-0 defeat by hosts Morocco in the final of the 2018 African Nations Championship on Sunday.
Rohr’s assistant Salisu Yusuf led the country to their best-ever finish at the tournament for locally-based players, even if the manner of the defeat left a lot to be desired.
“Personally, I think there were lots of positives out there, far more than what people expected from the team,” Rohr told BBC Sport in Casablanca.
“For the group it is good for them at this level, the players can also be proud of what they have done here in Morocco.”
Nigeria finished third in 2014 under late manager Stephen Keshi, and were knocked out of the last tournament in Rwanda at the group stage during the days of erstwhile coach Sunday Oliseh.
And Rohr believes the result in Morocco is huge progress considering where the team had been before.
“You don’t define the overall performance based with the final result, they reached this stage against all odds and deserve nothing but our praise and support,” said Rohr.
Critics had roundly criticised the team performance and most notably, coach Yusuf’s selections in the build up to the final, but Rohr wants to shift focus to the positives.
“I’ve been really impressed and see this as big progress for us,” he added.
“When everyone looks back, they will be satisfied with the exposure, results, and the incredible performance of the team.”