Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr has praised the Super Eagles’ performance despite a 4-0 defeat by hosts Morocco in the 2018 African Nations Championship final on Sunday.
Rohr’s assistant Salisu Yusuf led the country to their best-ever finish at the tournament for locally-based players.
“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 and were knocked out of the last tournament in Rwanda at the group stage so Rohr believes the result in Morocco is huge progress.
“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.”