The Super Eagles came out for the first game in Russia in their much-vaunted kits to take on a Croatian team boasting some of World football’s best midfield talents and they were bested 2-0 by their opponents.
Explaining the loss, Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr said that set-pieces were their problem as none of the goals came from open play.
He also said the team made ‘many mistakes’
“I think the organisation was okay. We didn’t concede from normal play, we conceded from set-pieces,” Rohr said after the game.
“Our system was okay. We cannot play with three when there is only one centre-forward, so we played with four because Croatia had three strikers. What we were missing today was to be more professional on set-pieces. Each game is different, we will see for the next game. We know we can play with three centre-backs but today was not that day.”
He came to Mikel’s defence whom many thought did not have a good game and who didn’t elevate the team as he was expected to.
He said: “We play all the time with Mikel in this role of offensive midfield. It’s was going well, we qualified and the team built behind them.
“I know he plays before in defensive midfield, in China he plays offensive and defensive. When we don’t have the ball, everyone is defensive. Obi Mikel tried his best, it’s not easy when you have to play against Modric and Rakitic when you see the clubs where they play and then the clubs where our players play.
He also explained his strange decision to sub Alex Iwobi off, saying: “Iwobi deserved to start the game, he had big work to do defensively against the right-back, he did it well, he had to work a lot, perhaps he was missing the energy for his offensive game.
“He did well, it was not his fault we lost the game.”