Gernot Rohr has explained the reason why Croatia was able to defeat Nigeria at the opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The Super Eagles lost to Croatia after scoring an own goal, giving away a penalty and showing a generally lackluster performance.
The technical director of the Nigerian team disclosed that nine of the players that started the game against Croatia were overwhelmed with nerves because it was the first time that they would be playing at a competition as big as the world cup.
The coach made this announcement while speaking ahead of the second round of fixtures in the world cup. Nigeria play Iceland on Friday and Rohr used the opportunity to inform fans that they should expect a better performance than what they witnessed against Croatia. He disclosed that the team did not play as bad as was being reported and Croatia has assembled a very solid team.
”9 out of the 11 players in the starting line-up against Croatia played their first World Cup match. Of course, nerves played a role there. But we worked on our set-pieces – both the offensive and the defensive ones. We know that we need to improve them,” Rohr said
”Our group is a tough one – the best in this World Cup, in my opinion. We should always keep that in mind. Croatia has one of the best midfield in the world,” the former German international continued.
If you consider that, our organization wasn’t so bad. Croatia’s first goal was an own goal. Their first shot on target was in the 71st minute and it was a penalty. Therefore, we need to stay calm and focus on the next game,” he concluded.
Rohr has turned the super eagles around since he took over. His appointment has seen Nigeria play some exciting football that led them to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. They were the first African side to secure a ticket to Russia and had such high expectations before the first game.
The world cup debutants against Croatia are: Francis Uzoho, Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Abdullahi Shehu, Brian Idowu, Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Odion Ighalo. Rohr however did not disclose if there would be any changes to the line up that started on Saturday.