Nigeria vs Croatia: Where the game was won & lost
The Super Eagles gave many the hope that this might just be Nigeria’s best appearance at the World Cup.
From preparation to funding and even the hype around its playing jerseys, the Super Eagles looked destined to wow the world in Russia.
With Argentina and Iceland settling for a 1-1 draw in the Group D opener, many were already projecting to see the Eagles top the group after the first round of matches.
Alas! That was never the case as the high hopes nursed by many Nigerians and others across the world was vastly deflated after 90 minutes of action at the Kaliningrad Stadium.
Below is how Nigeria vs Croatia game was won & lost
Mismanagement of creative resources:
If Nigeria were to have hold their own, and even got the better of a Croatia side that rank among the most technically adroit in the tournament, then Gernot Rohr surely needed to have managed his creative talents effectively. Instead, he opted to use Alex Iwobi, Nigeria’s brightest player in the defeat by England, out on the left flank, rather than giving the Arsenal man license to roam in the heart of the park. Iwobi ultimately cut a frustrated figure, isolated on the periphery of the action, and was withdrawn just after the hour mark.
Faith in Mikel:
In the second half, when changes were required to alter the tempo of the contest and give Nigeria the lift they needed, Rohr appeared reticent to do so. It was clear that John Obi Mikel faded badly in the second half. He’d been made to do far more chasing than was ideal before the break, and was leggy and ineffective as the game wore on. Clearly, a change was required in order for Nigeria to assert themselves in midfield, but it wasn’t until the 88th minute—far too late in the day—that Mikel was withdrawn.