Nigeria wrapped up their World Cup preparations with another loss, this time, a 0-1 reversal against Czech Republic in their Austria base on a sunny, later wintry Wednesday afternoon.
Former Chelsea defender Tomas Kalas slotted home a rebound midway through the first half after goalkeeper Francis Uzoho had saved the initial header in one of many set-piece situations that troubled the Nigerians all day.
Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr made two changes to the side which lost 1-2 against England at the Wembley on Saturday, replacing the much vilified Ogenyi Onazi and Joel Obi with the returning Wilfred Ndidi and John Ogu.
The Nigerians lined out in what looked like a 3-1-4-2 formation with Chelsea star Victor Moses playing with Odion Ighalo up front while Ndidi acted as a base for captain Mikel Obi and Alex Iwobi.
Czech threatened especially through dead balls in the opening half and it was not a surprise when they took the lead through one of such moments in the 25th minute, Uzoho’s save off Soucek’s header landing finely for Kalas to bury home.
Nigeria became significantly better after the break with newly acquired Benfica star Tyronne Ebuehi replacing Abdullahi Shehu at half time to good effect. But Victor Moses missed their best chance in the 67th minute when the winger somehow got his legs tangled as he attempted to finish Ndidi’s square pass.
Left back Brian Idowu was also guilty of a couple of misses while striker Odion Ighalo was twice denied by goalkeeper Thomas Vaclick as the Nigerians poured forward in the second half.
The Europeans, who will not be among the world’s elites in Russia held on for their victory while Nigeria will have to work to find a winning formula ahead of their World Cup opener against Croatia in ten days’ time.