By Amaechi Agbo
Super Eagles of Nigeria yesterday lost its last Russia 2018 World Cup warm up match 0-1 to a fellow World Cup candidate, Czech Republic.
Characteristically, it was another game of two halves with the Czech Republic dominating the first half while the Super Eagles waited till second half to assert themselves in the game.
But unlike the matches against Poland and England where they conceded two goals each and also scored once in the second half, the Super Eagles, despite their dominance in the second half, failed to score as Chelsea of England defender’s Thomas Kalas’ 25 minute first half goal settled the proceedings.
The match which was the team’s last warm up game ahead of the opening day of the 2018 World Cup in Russia on Wednesday next week, was the second consecutive match the team is losing in as many friendlies.
In the other World Cup friendlies, the Super Eagles lost 0-2 against Serbia national team, lost 2-1 against Poland, grounded out a 1-1 score line against Democratic Republic of Congo at home in Port Harcourt and lost 2-1 against England on Saturday.
The Super Eagles lost all their matches against European teams thereby casting doubts on their preparedness ahead of the World Cup opener against Croatia on Saturday next week.
Some sports journalists bared their minds on the outcome of yesterday’s match and Nigeria’s chances in the global football showpiece.
According to Francis Joseph, a sports journalist in Bayelsa state, he called on the coach of the team to work on the attitude and approach to games as well as how to defend set pieces if Nigeria will record her best ever World Cup appearance in Russia.
“Gernot Rohr needs to work on the attitude and approach to games. The Super Eagles need to try and impose themselves more especially early in games, or they’ll get blown away early and may not recover. You can see that they have not really given it a go right from the first blast of the whistle. That will definitely work against us in the world cup when we play European countries.
“Nigeria midfield seems disjointed so far, no good crosses; the midfield combination is not inspiring at all. Defending set pieces has to improve as well if not we are going to concede so many goals from corners and free kicks. Modern football requires that the attacking wing backs get involved in the final third but so far our wing backs are not doing their job.
“Generally the team needs to improve if not we are going to be back after the first round,” he concluded.
A Benin State Radio and TV host, Charles Bassey described the Super Eagles match against Czech as “drab” and called on the players to play as a team.
“The performance of the Super Eagles of Nigeria against Czech Republic was a drab One. The attitude of the players needs to be awakened and the coach should put tactical formation that our players can blend into without stress.
“They should work on their set pieces and crosses to the danger area and also work on how to connect their point man. Our players should learn how to establish themselves in games from the very first minute. Individual play should be an aberration. At this point, let them play as a team.”
Another sports journalist and analyst based in Abuja, Babatunde Ojo, pointed out areas of defects in the team and called on the technical crew to do the needful ahead of the team’s opener on Saturday next week.
“The team was very below-par today (yesterday). The right side of the defence was poor and same goes for the left side. Bryan Idowu’s decision-making in the final third was lackluster.
“Crosses from the flanks were ineffective for the better part of the game. The much celebrated central defence partnership of the OyinboWall was shaky, seems the chemistry is fading.
“The only thing that brought life into the game was John Ogu and Wilfred Ndidi’s industry.
“Another thing that needs pointing out is the fact that the attack led by Ighalo lacked service. Also, the team find it difficult to utilize dead-ball situations be it free kicks or corner kicks. We can make use of Simy’s (Simon Nwankwo’s) height graft to great effect.
“The team has 9 days to prepare for their group opener against Croatia. Hopefully, they will get their acts together, put in decent and commendable shifts and make Nigeria proud,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, has predicted that the Super Eagles of Nigeria will qualify in Group D at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Portugese gaffer, however, stated that Gernot Rohr’s men will come second behind Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
“In group D, the first place will be taken by Lionel Messi-led Argentina. Second place, very difficult choice, but I put on the African team, Nigeria,” Mourinho was quoted.
The Super Eagles will fly into Russia on Monday, June 11 ahead of their first Group D matches against Croatia on Saturday. The best Nigeria has put up at the World Cup since her debut in 1994 has been Round of 16 knock out stage.
The World Cup will kick off on Wednesday next week.