Gernot Rohr's 36-game pressure point

Players hoist coach Gernot Rohr in the air as Nigeria qualify for the World Cup after beating Zambia Kabiru Abubakar/BackpagePix

He may have qualified Nigeria for the World Cup with a game to spare, but there are many in the country who still feel that coach Gernot Rohr has done nothing special.

After all, Phillipe Trousier accomplished a similar feat in 1998, and the late Shuabu Amodu qualified for multiple World Cups during his spells in charge.

By no means should any credit be taken away from Rohr's achievement though, and credit he does deserve. Few World Cup Qualifying groups have been as tough as the one Rohr and his troops had to negotiate.

Perhaps the only one that comes close for the Super Eagles is Clemens Westorhof negotiating a three-team group with Algeria and Ivory Coast to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

Then, as now, the Super Eagles' final group game was against Algeria. But unlike then, when they travelled in trepidation, needing to eke out a point to qualify for the first time, they now go there free of that proverbial monkey on their backs.

Instead, there is a different objective ahead of the team -- one that might be less decisive in the general scheme of things, but just as important for a team needing every win they can claim after emerging from some dark times in the last few years.

That objective is for Rohr and his wards to carry on an inadvertent streak started by his predecessors and dating all the way back to Austin Eguavoen in 2005: to maintain an unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying.

Since 2005, when they lost to a Fabrice Akwa goal in Luanda, Angola, the Super Eagles have gone on to rack up a run of 36 games without defeat -- a record that is not just the best in Africa, but second worldwide only to Spain.

It is a streak that comprises of 25 wins and 11 draws. It also includes an 11-game winning run between their draw against the same Angola in Kano on 2005 to another draw, this time Malawi in Blantyre in 2013.

Some of the opposition that have failed to beat the Super Eagles include Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa and Cameroon.

If Rohr or his players needed any motivation beyond qualification to make Friday's game more than just a dead rubber, they will find it in those numbers. And a desire to finish these qualifiers with a flourish.

2006 World Cup Qualifying

Nigeria 2-0 Rwanda
Angola 1-0 Nigeria
Nigeria 1-0 Algeria
Zimbabwe 0-3 Nigeria
Gabon 1-1 Nigeria
Nigeria 2-0 Gabon
Rwanda 1-1 Nigeria
Nigeria 1-1 Angola
Algeria 2-5 Nigeria
Nigeria 5-1 Zimbabwe

2010 World Cup Qualifying

Mozambique 0-0 Nigeria
Nigeria 3-0 Kenya
Tunisia 0-0 Nigeria
Nigeria 2-2 Tunisia
Nigeria 1-0 Mozambique
Kenya 2-3 Nigeria
Nigeria 2 - 0 South Africa
Sierra Leone 0 - 1 Nigeria Equatorial
Guinea 0 - 1 Nigeria
Nigeria 2 - 0 Equatorial Guinea
South Africa 0 - 1 Nigeria
Nigeria 4 - 1 Sierra Leone

2014 World Cup Qualifying

Ethiopia 1-2 Nigeria
Nigeria 2-0 Ethiopia
Nigeria 1-0 Namibia
Malawi 1-1 Nigeria
Nigeria 1-1 Kenya
Kenya 0-1 Nigeria
Namibia 1-1 Nigeria
Nigeria 2-0 Malawi

2018 World Cup Qualifying

Swaziland 0-0 Nigeria
Nigeria 2-0 Swaziland
Zambia 1-2 Nigeria
Nigeria 3-1 Algeria
Nigeria 4-0 Cameroon
Cameroon 1-1 Nigeria
Nigeria 1-0 Zambia