Former Nigeria international Garba Lawal has absolved Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr from blame after their 4-4 draw against Sierra Leone on Friday.
The three-time African champions surrendered a four-goal lead in the encounter to share the points with the Leone Stars in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying game in Benin City.
Fans have taken to social media to lambast the Super Eagles for their shambolic second-half display while the teams captain Ahmed Musa has apologized for their unimpressive performance.
Lawal also expressed shock at the draw and believes the players have to take the blame for the uninspiring showing.
“Only the players can explain what happened even the coach cannot tell you this because they are the actors,” Lawal told Goal.
“The coach has no blame. The players know there were a lot of things they did wrong. They knew they have complete control of the game and suddenly something went wrong, of course, it is the players that will take responsibilities for that.
“The coach did everything right, it’s the players that disappointed. If their tactics were not good how did they score four goals? The players were not disciplined. They exposed themselves.
“The players are professionals and they know what is at stake. They knew they did not do well. When you take chances that is what you get. Many of the fans were expecting something like 7-0 after 4-0 lead.
“We don’t know what went wrong only the players can tell. Nobody thought the Sierra Leoneans can come back into the game after 4-1. We were lucky because we could have also lost that match.”
The Super Eagles played the game behind closed doors in adherence to directives from Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
Some analysts believe the disappointing performance from the West African giants could be as a result of playing without their fans at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, a suggestion that Lawal has dismissed.
“When we scored four goals fans were not in the stadium. Fans not been in the stadium has nothing to do with the draw," he added.
“We were up by 4-0 within 40 minutes and conceded three goals in the second half, so it is not about the fans. Only the player can explain what happened.”
Despite the draw, Nigeria maintain their lead in Group L with seven points from three games after securing victories over the Republic of Benin and Lesotho.
The reverse fixture of the game is scheduled for Freetown on Tuesday and a win for Nigeria could be enough for them to secure an early ticket to 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.