“Nigeria played with 12 men” – Savoy gives reason for CAR’s defeat to the Super Eagles

The 124th-ranked Central Africans were looking to break Nigerians’ hearts twice in four days, but they fell short in Douala

Head coach of the Central African Republic, Raoul Savoy, has revealed the main reason his team lost to Nigeria in the matchday four clash of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Savoy blames the centre referee Louis Hakizimana for giving the Super Eagles undue advantage, which helped the 2013 Afcon kings to secure a 2-0 victory at the Japoma Stadium in Douala, Cameroon.

The Swiss coach had engineered a shocking 1-0 win over the Nigerians at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on October 7, the Super Eagles’ first home defeat in a World Cup qualifier in 40 years.

Another victory in their adopted home in Cameroon would have seen the Central African Republic overtake the three-time African champions at the top of Group C.

But Rangers defender Leon Balogun beat the offside trap to connect with a deep Chidozie Awaziem cross on the half-hour mark to volley home the opening goal for Nigeria in Douala.

And Napoli’s Victor Osimhen made it two-nil in first-half stoppage time, after good work from Watford defender William Troost-Ekong.

But coach Savoy insists the referee should not have allowed both goals to stand as the first was offside, and the second arrived after a foul on his goalkeeper.

“Nigeria played with 12 men because the referee helped them to win,” the Swiss tactician told the press after the encounter.

“The first goal was from an offside position, and my goalkeeper was fouled for the second goal.

“We did not concede against Nigeria over the two legs; they scored with the help of the referee.”

The CAR remained third in Group C after that loss, five points behind leaders Nigeria, with their hopes of making it to Qatar 2022 all but over.

The Super Eagles have the Cape Verde Islands to worry about in the final two rounds of matches, though, with the Blue Sharks only two points behind the group leaders after beating Liberia in back-to-back games.

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