Former coach of Chelsea FC and now handler of Manchester United in the English Premier League, Jose Mourinho, has said despite losing 2-0 to Croatia in their opening game of the Russia 2018 World Cup, all hope is not lost for the Super Eagles of Nigeria to qualify from the group stage.
Mourinho who is at the World Cup as a guest analyst of the Russian Government sponsored international broadcast network, RT, said though he was disappointed seeing Nigeria fall to Croatia, insisted that the Super Eagles have good players and can rally out the required points against Iceland and Argentina to progress.
“I was sad and disappointed the way they lost. I looked at the composition of the team. On paper, they have some good players”.
He however suggested an amendment to the formation of the Super Eagles and the assignment of roles taking into account the capability of the players.
Mourinho who won the Uefa Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan and moved on to coach Real Madrid before joining Man U, pointed out that having worked with Mikel Obi for several years, it was out of place to have played him in the attacking midfield position instead of at the defending and holding position which he had mastered and got used to through the years. He noted that while Mikel has the intelligence to read and control the tempo of the game, younger and faster players should be put up front to give sharpness to the attack.
Mourinho was in Nigeria in mid 2009 as guest of the Kwara Football Academy, Ilorin, and also developed a great relationship with Mikel Obi while in Chelsea, suggesting when asked about his plans for the succession of captaincy before he left that Mikel (alongside the likes of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas) had the capacity to captain the high profile London club after John Terry.
“Mikel is, after John (Terry), the guy with most years of Chelsea,” he had said at the time. Mikel grew to emerge captain of the Super Eagles but has taken his trade to China a few years after Mourinho had also moved on to different other clubs.