Not only Nigerian fans, the Super Eagles were equally disappointed with the 2-0 defeat to Croatia in their opening game of the World Cup, but the good thing is that there is still hope to qualify for the next round, the players have quickly get over the loss and have intensified training at the Essentuki Arena, Stavropol, for the games against Iceland and Argentina.
No use crying over spilled milk, Group D was bound to be tough from onset and the Argentines are equally upset with their 1-1 draw with Iceland. Still, teams have lost and drawn their opening games and gone on to progress in the World Cup. Argentina lost to Roger Milla’s Cameroon in their opening and went on to play in the finals of Italia ‘90.
Accordingly, Coach Gernot Rohr and the players are giving assurances they can turn the table to earn six or at worst four points for a berth into next round, albeit with a respectable goals difference.
“Nothing is lost, all is our hands, so let’s be positive and believe we can do it,” Rohr stated. We have the youngest team in the World Cup, let them learn from this match and try to do better. We saw the good game of Iceland against Argentina, very strong team. We know that they are able to do very well, we also can do better than we did.
It is important to make at least four points if you want to qualify, we are only one point behind for the moment, Rohr declared.
Leon Balogun on his Twitter handle has also given encouragement that “no defeat is too great to recover and bounce back (from).” This resonates with Victor Moses who acknowledgment that the first result was disappointing but that they are working hard to put things right.
“Disappointed with the result but we will dust ourselves down and be ready to fight again. We are working hard to put things right,” he said.
The chances are open and captain Mikel Obi believes the Super Eagles can hone the rough edges and straighten the crooked path.
“We believe we are good to advance to the second round. That’s why we’re here. We have two more games to play. Argentina drew against Iceland, so I think this is a bit better for us. Next game, we have to go and try to win the game. If we do that, we’re back in it again. We don’t have any option than to do better. I think we can play better, we can do better,” he said.
The team is aware of its areas of difficulty and Brian Idowu says they have been working hard at it.
”We worked on the defense with the standards, because in the friendly games we conceded from corners. At first it seemed that we were coping, I even thought that our work was not in vain. But in the end it turned out that the two goals were from corner kicks. It seems that everything went well, but the ball hit the heel of Etebo, and we missed the goal. It became more difficult for us to play, because before the missed goal the game was equal, but then the Croats began to act more confidently and began to use our free zones,” Idowu told.
Croatia tops the Group D table with three points with Argentina and Iceland on a point apiece but for Brian Idowu, that is not the final call.
”Everything can change in our group, it seems to me. It is the toughest, any team can come out on top. The second game is very important for us, it will be like the final.”
Indeed, the players realize that Nigerians have great expectations from them and they acknowledge that the NFF has left no stone unturned to provide all variables they require for success. As Ogenyi Onazi confessed, the provisions and care for the team has never been this good and to whom much is given, much is expected. Now, the onus is on the players and the coaches to reciprocate the nation, the NFF board, President Amaju Pinnick and his assistants – Seyi Akinwunmi and Amaju Pinnick and the array of corporate sponsors that have backed the new progress in the management of Nigerian football.