By Albert Akota with agency report
Some football fans in Abuja on Saturday expressed disappointment at the Super Eagles’ 0-2 loss to Croatia in their opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Nigeria had an unimpressive start to their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign on Saturday in Kaliningrad with a 0-2 loss to Croatia, thereby dropping to the bottom of Group D.
The result meant Croatia moved to the top of the table with three points, while Argentina and Iceland are second and third respectively after playing out a 1-1 draw earlier.
A cross section of football fans in Abuja, who spoke to newsmen at a viewing centre in Maitama, said the Eagles got their tactics and formation wrong against the Croats.
Temitope Badmus, a civil servant, said the players were not coordinated, adding that the coach failed to make the necessary substitutions on time.
“I believe the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) did their best to ensure that this team was adequately prepared for the World Cup this time around.
“I must confess that I am really disappointed in the players as none could muster a good shot at goal.
“Mikel seemed lost, Moses kept falling and complaining at every slightest touch by the opponents, and Coach Gernot Rohr made his substitutions too late.
“The coach must learn to substitute any player not playing well on time. I must say he failed in that regard today,” he said.
Obi Uchendu, a businessman, noted that the goals conceded by the Eagles were “school boy errors”.
“We conceded all our goals through set pieces which clearly shows that the team is yet to learn the right approach in defending set pieces, which has been our major issue.
“The own goal conceded by Etebo could have been avoided and William Troost-Ekong had no reason wrapping his arms around Manduzkic the way he did.
“It was undoubtedly a clear penalty call by the referee,” he said.
Robert Akpan, a lawyer blamed the coach for the poor performance of the team.
“I think a lot of things did go wrong. Firstly, I think it was about the fitness and positioning of the players.
“In a situation where you field players like Wilfred Ndidi and Leon Balogun, who were reportedly injured and not a 100 percent fit to play in a crucial World Cup opening game what result do you expect to get?
“Balogun struggled throughout the week and only had a light training session on Friday.
“Ndidi was also not 100 percent fit and struggled throughout the Super Eagles pre-world cup preparations as he only got 90 minutes in the friendly against Czech Republic.
“It was therefore surprising to see that these players were allowed to play for the whole 90 minutes in a high profile match such as this one,” he said.
Akpan also added that most of the key players were played out of position which distorted the formation of the team.
“For instance, Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses who are natural wing players often dropped to deep to get the ball before they attack.
“Odion Ighalo was also starved of the necessary supply and had to track back often times to get the ball.
“This destabilised the whole formation of the team as the midfield struggled to keep position and lacked the necessary bite upfront to cause the Croats any serious problem.
“I hope the coach and his technical crew saw the flaws in the game and will hopefully get back to the drawing board to correct the errors,” he said.
Yisa Audu, a salesman, on his part said the Eagles were the better side, especially in the first half in which they dominated and dictated the pace of the game.
“We played well, especially in the first half but for the errors, we could have gone ahead to win or at most get a draw.
“I still believe that this our young team have the potential to go far in this tournament.
“We still have six points to play for and hopefully the team can up their game a little more and get maximum points or at least four from our remaining games,” he said.
Also, sports fans in Gombe attributed the failure of the Super Eagles to secure their first opening World Cup win since France 1998 to player’s errors.