By Albert Akota
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick has expressed confidence that the Super Eagles will bounce back following their opening defeat at the 2018 World Cup.
The West African side were beaten 2-0 by Croatia in their first Group D match in Kaliningrad on Saturday night.
Gernot Rohr’s charges will look to return to winning form when they tackle tournament debutants Iceland in Volgograd on Friday.
“Croatia made good from set pieces in Kaliningrad on Saturday, winning 2-0 to top Group D ahead of Argentina and Iceland, who finished 1-1 and have one point each,” Pinnick said in a statement issued by the NFF.
“We expected to win against Croatia but it did not happen and the whole team, as well as the federation have put that behind us and looking ahead with hope to the next two matches.
“I have spoken with the coach and the players and they have confidence that the job can be done.
“They feel bad to have lost the first match and are determined to go out there and do what they have to do against Iceland on Friday.”
The federation president added, “Losing your first match of a major competition is not an automatic exit ticket. Spain lost their first match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals and still went ahead to win the tournament.
“We have a young team that can achieve so much with the right attitude and invention, and we must now reach deep down for those qualities when we play Iceland in Volgograd.
“Argentina and Iceland, who have one point each, are ahead of Nigeria as well as table-toppers Croatia, but victory against Iceland will earn the Eagles three points and second place in Group D.
“If Croatia emerge unscathed against Argentina in Nizhni Novgorod on Thursday.”
The Nigeria v Iceland game at the Volgograd Arena will kick-off at 17h00 on Friday.