Croatia 2-0 Nigeria: Super Eagles refuse to fly due to poor selection (Opinion)

Nigeria lost to Croatia 2-0 as both teams start their journey to glory at Russia 2018 World Cup.

The two goals came as a result of setpieces, a problem that the Super Eagles have been facing before the start of the tournament, though Mikel Obi said after the match that they talked about it during their preparations and worked on it but it seems they still they just can't defend crosses.

Click on this link to see Croatia 2-0 Nigeria full match highlights.

Oh well, all the four goals conceded by African teams so far in the tournament came from set pieces. That's not good enough at this level. Africa, we need to do better!

Gernot Rohr went with the 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mikel playing behind the main striker Odion Ighalo who is not as fast and rarely score for the Super Eagles. Despite is poor goalscoring form for Nigeria, I always thought we played Ighalo because of his hold up play and strength but he has not been doing enough with the ball in recent games.

Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi in action vs Croatia

Mikel himself is not helping matters as the former Chelsea midfielder can't run anymore so we lacked midfielders who can run off the ball for the striker to pick passes, the Super Eagles captain's best position is shielding the back four which he played during his time in England, in fact, he was one of the best in that role and won a lot of trophies at Stamford Bridge. So, I do not understand why we are playing him in as an attacking midfielder behind a striker that is also slow.

We lacked any creativity going forward today, Victor Moses who plays as a right wing-back at Chelsea was the only player trying to beat players and create something, imagine that? Other players do not know what to do with the ball when we are in possession.

Etebo in action for Nigeria vs Croatia at

Etebo had a great game in the middle, he was energetic and made himself available to receive passes but he was a shadow of his old self as he kept on turning and playing back passes even when there were opportunities to play a forward pass and even make box-to-box runs. Maybe it was due to instructions from the coach, we were too slow on the ball, lacked any creative and we literally played at walking pace when we had the ball.

Alex Iwobi is still our most creative player, for now, he needs to play behind Ighalo, the Arsenal midfielder's best attribute is finding small pockets of space in between opponents' defensive line and midfield. Playing Iwobi on the wings is limiting his talent, he is not a winger and he likes moving around at the edge of the box, playing through passes and has also scored a handful of goals for the Super Eagles.

Coach Gernot Rohr needs to stop playing his most experienced players in the wrong positions, players spend most of their career playing for club than country, they train every day and master a particular position so it is understandable when they struggle for their country if they are not playing the same role as they do at their respective clubs.

Croatia was there for the taking but the Super Eagles refused to fly due to poor selection and tactics.

Earlier in Group D, Argentina played a surprise 1-1 draw against underdogs Iceland. The Super Eagles are currently at the bottom of the group with zero points.

Here is how the Russia 2018 World Cup group D looks at the moment:



Nigeria will play Iceland on June 22nd, a match we must win if we are going to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.


Written by Olusegun Ake

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