18 June 2018

Nigeria: Eagles Defeat - Rohr's Wrong!

Photo: Africa Top Sport
Nigeria vs Croatia

As Nigerians come to terms with the dreadful outing of the Super Eagles against Croatia in their opening game of the World Cup in Russia, many have been dissecting the team to find solution that may offer Nigeria an escape route into the second round of the competition to avoid the impending doom of exit that stares them in the face in the first round.

Within the Nigerian camp, there were discordant voices on the performance of the players with many blaming the players for their poor output and in some cases the un-necessary dribbling runs of Victor Moses and his frequent falls that punctuated the pace of the game.

But a Brazilian Journalist I met in the course of this job, Bernardo, with so much love and deep knowledge of the Eagles said that Gernot Rohr should be blamed for the embarrassing defeat.

"I've been following Nigerian football for long because of the abundance of talents in Nigeria. Nigerian football is popular in Brazil because most of your players have skills like Brazilians. Beating Brazil at the Olympics in '96 also endeared your team to our hearts.

"Okocha remains a popular player in Brazil because of the tricks he can perform with the ball.

"But yesterday, I was disappointed with the style of play of your team which was mostly caused by your technical team. The coach allowed Croatia so much space that they became exceptional.

"But they were ordinary. A two-man attack in front would have been better than leaving one player lonely in the front and being tossed around without support. And your players were too far away from each other for quick inter-changes in a two-to-beat- one situation. I expected the coach to have noticed the flaws after 15 minutes but he ignored it and it was only a matter of time for Croatia to exploit your mistakes.

"I also noticed that your team only wait to be scored before they react. I noticed that during your friendly with England. You give too much respect and allowed the opponents to direct affairs before reacting. I expected your coach to change because the World Cup is different. If you continue to do that, you'll always be punished.

"Also, he appeared confused in his changes and left out the Leicester City boy (Iheanacho) for long on the bench. When he came in, he caused panic in Croatia's defence. Long aerial balls against tall defenders were to their advantage. This is where you skilful players come into play. Victor Moses wanted to play the ball but he was holding and dribbling too much and falling. Once a referee notices that you dive unnecessarily, even when you are tackled, he would think that you have taken a dive", Bernardo said. The Brazilian was not alone in faulting Rohr. Some Nigerians who would not want to be named voiced similar opinions.

Weekend Editor of Vanguard, Onochie Anibeze who called to review the match had pointed out these flaws during the two friendly games that Nigeria lost. Onochie said then that except Rohr corrects the mistakes, that the Eagles would always be on the receiving end.

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