Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr blamed his side’s opening Group D defeat to Croatia on lack discipline at set-pieces that comes with inexperience
“I was pleased with the general attitude and organisation all over the pitch but we were let down by the mistakes and lack of care at set-pieces”.
The Super Eagles conceded an Oghenkharo Etebo own goal in the first half and a penalty stroked home by Luka Modric after centre-back William Troost-Ekong was adjudged to have fouled Mario Mandzukic at a corner in the second half.
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Rohr felt his young team was harshly done by that decision “There were many like fouls at the Croatian end of the pitch but they were not penalised” he said. “That is football; sometimes you get them others you don’t but my players will learn from it”.
Many in the media tribune of the Nigerian contingent were puzzled at the withdrawal of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi. The coach explains “Iwobi did so much defensively because the Croatian right back(Sime Vrsalko) attacked a lot, so late in the half he was a bit tired. That was why he brought the fresh legs of Ahmed Musa”.
ACLSports.com then asked if it was possible to tactically have Skipper Mikel Obi play in a defensive midfield role as he had done for so many years at Chelsea. “Since I arrived in Nigeria, we have played him in this role(No 10) and we have won many games. We did not lose today because he did not play in the defensive midfield”.
That is that then.
Nigeria play Iceland next in Volgograd. The World Cup debutants earned a creditable draw against one of the tournament favourites Argentina. It has become a must win game for Nigeria.
That is that indeed. Expect the same vs Iceland.
I wonder how soon Nigerians are going to start asking questions about Gernot Rohr and his apparent rigidity. Or his tendency to talk and talk.
You would expect some flexibility if a particular system is seen to not produce results.
What we seem to be getting is a rigidity that is associated with the older managers.
It should have been obvious that Croatia’s strategy was to press us hard knowing that our defenders would struggle to link the midfield. As a result, we resorted to lobbing the ball to an isolated Ighalo, rather than break through the press and find the midfield.
Mikel would probably have been the best at providing that link up, as a DM, given his experience and abilities.