Sampaoli confounded by Eagles performance in friendly loss

Sampaoli confounded by Eagles performance in friendly loss

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli could not find the right words to describe his team’s display after a terrific second half performance by Nigeria blew the Seleçion away in a friendly match on Tuesday.

Sampaoli’s wards took a commanding 2-0 lead in the first half but Nigeria halved the deficit just before the break through Kelechi Iheanacho’s sumptuous free kick.

Alex Iwobi scored twice in the second half, either side of debutant Bryan Idowu’s strike to complete a remarkable turnaround for the Nigerians at the Krasnodar City Stadium in Russia.

Sampaoli cut a confused figure at the post-match press conference where he had to provide answers to many begging questions arising from their shock capitulation.

“I think it was a very difficult game to explain,” begun the former Chile manager.
“We had the chance to go 3-0 or 4-0 up in the first half but we ended going with a 2-1 lead.

“The momentum swung in their favour in the second half after they scored three goals in nine minutes from long range shots,” analysed Sampaoli.

With Sampaoli forced to change striker Sergio Aguero at half time after he was reported concussed, the hopes of the Argentines to seal victory in the second half was dashed so early by the re-energized Nigerians.

“The team went to look for a third goal but we did not have the ability and energy we had in the first half, where we pressed high and generated high-flying moves in which the margin could have been extended,” added Sampaoli.

The 57-year old is more concerned with his team’s reaction when they conceded Idowu’s goal and drew inference from an earlier game during World Cup qualifying in September.

“My biggest concern is when the team is behind. I know that we have the capacity and individuals that allow you to know that, at any moment, these circumstances could happen.

“I am worried about what happened because it also happened in the second half against Venezuela. These things are what we have to improve on,” he bemoaned.

He was however quick to harp on the positives from the game which he believes his team will take with them.

“I draw many positive things from the game, especially the dominant first half.

“Negatively and unfortunately, we lost a game, that can be confusing, but that should not blind us that Argentina had an incredible first half, where we could beat the opponent.

“The team when it is very good, can beat anyone, but when the adversity touches you, we must be strong to reverse it,” he concluded.

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