…Super Eagles will bounce back against Iceland, Rohr certain…
…Eagles down but not out yet, Adepoju sure of Eagles strength…
Super Eagles of Nigeria lost their 2018 World Cup opener in a 2-0 defeat to Croatia.
An own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo in the first half and a second half penalty from Croatia captain, Luka Modric sealed the win for Croatia.
Croatia win placed them on the first rank in the group with 3 points, Argentina and Iceland ranked second and third as they both earned a point, while Nigeria stayed at the bottom of the group with no point.
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has expressed his disappointment following the team’s 2-0 defeat to Croatia in their 2018 World Cup Group D opener on Saturday.
“We’re really disappointed we lost this game,” Rohr said in his post-match press conference.
“Croatia were the better team. We could have come back into it in the second half after we started very well before the penalty against us.”
Rohr expressed hope that the Super Eagles will bounce back in their next game against Iceland on Friday.
“We’re a young team, we’re learning and I hope in the next game against Iceland we will do much better.”
Mutiu Adepoju said:
“Final scores ended Croatia 2 Nigeria 0. I can’t say exactly what went wrong. Admittedly, we played against a very very good side but we weren’t too bad either, if you watch the game again without any pressure. The Croatians are experienced and good too. They know what to do at each point of the game. They have a team, not just a bunch of players. So I’m not surprised that they won. I’m just shocked that we lost like that.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong in the game. The first goal came off an own-goal which was unfortunate because he (Oghenekaro Etebo) wanted to clear the ball but it bounced off his leg and went in. The Croatian headed the ball wrongly and it was going off target but the deflection took it in. That could happen to anybody so you cannot really blame him for it. The second goal too was from a mistake, an unnecessary mistake. At this level such errors will be punished by the referee. You cannot grab a player like that and not pay for it. So, basically we lost to our naivety against a more experienced side who exploited our own inexperience.
“Against Iceland we have to win. No too ways about it. A hard job just became a little bit more difficult. Iceland have shown that they could be even more difficult than Croatia. They play very compact football. So very organized that they hardly leave any space for you to operate. We saw how they froze Argentina out and made life difficult for Lionel Messi. If they did that to Messi, you wonder what they can do to us. Yet we have to get a good result against them.
“If I was on the coaching crew of the Eagles, the first thing I will say to the players is to calm down. The Croatian game is gone, we cannot help it again except to pick lessons from the game going forward. Then they should psych the players up that Iceland may be difficult but they are very beatable. Then the coach should look for a formation that plays to the strength of the players. We need to play with pace and intelligence, going through the flanks if the middle is too choked. We cannot afford to be one-dimensional and the players must learn to play with urgency. Starting slowly is costing us a lot.”