Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr has admitted that his team lost to a better side in the semi-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt on Sunday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that a Riyad Mahrez’s goal from a free-kick at the edge of the box, with seconds left to play, condemned Nigeria to a 2-1 defeat and steered Algeria to their first AFCON Final match in 29 years.
Rohr told newsmen during a post-match interview that it was a game of two halves, adding however that Algeria were the better side at the end of the day.
“Until the last minute, Algeria had a better first half than us, but we came back a much better team in the second half.
“Unfortunately, we conceded a goal in the last minute. I think the players wanted to go to extra-time believing that perhaps Algeria will get tired and we could win the match in extra time.
“It was a wonderful game. We lost it, so we are not happy. Congrats to the winners. They were the better team in the first half.
“We scored an own goal. We were unlucky but we came back like we have always done all the time in this tournament.
“When we found ourselves in a difficult situation, we always reacted and we did that also today coming back through a penalty and playing a better second half.
“But a wonderful free-kick from a football genius made the difference.
“In our last game, we won in the last minute against South Africa and today we lost. That’s football, ” he said.
Coach Djamel Belmadi of Algeria on his part said his side had a tough game against a tough opponent, adding that it had to take the quality of Mahrez to decide the result of the match.
“We knew that it would be a tough game because of the quality of our opponents and the tough game we had against Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday.
“My boys had an amazing first half. So, we deserved at that time to score a goal and I think we could have scored even more goals.
“Then in the second half, we had a difficult moment for about 15 minutes, we were under pressure.
“I think we played too deep and didn’t apply enough pressure on our opponents due to fatigue on my players and the quality of course of our opponents.
“Then came the penalty which I think my players showed great character and mental strength to come back and fought until the end to score the decisive goal.
“We, however, had some situations in the second half, maybe not clear cut chances where I think we could have scored another goal with a little more accuracy.
“Then the free-kick arrived and of course with the quality of players like Riyad Mahrez, it’s a massive chance at goal and thank God we made it count,” he said.
Nigeria will now take on 2004 champions Tunisia in the third-place match at the Al Salam Stadium on Wednesday, while Algeria take on Senegal in Friday’s final at the Cairo International Stadium.