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Adepoju: Eagles Down But Not Out Yet

Adepoju: Eagles Down But Not Out Yet

Final scores ended Croatia 2 Nigeria 0. I can’t say exactly what went wrong. Admittedly, we played against a very very good side but we weren’t too bad either, if you watch the game again without any pressure. The Croatians are experienced and good too. They know what to do at each point of the game. They have a team, not just a bunch of players. So I’m not surprised that they won. I’m just shocked that we lost like that.

Everything that could go wrong went wrong in the game. The first goal came off an own-goal which was unfortunate because he (Oghenekaro Etebo) wanted to clear the ball but it bounced off his leg and went in. The Croatian headed the ball wrongly and it was going off target but the deflection took it in. That could happen to anybody so you cannot really blame him for it. The second goal too was from a mistake, an unnecessary mistake. At this level such errors will be punished by the referee. You cannot grab a player like that and not pay for it. So, basically we lost to our naivety against a more experienced side who exploited our own inexperience.

We did not attack as much as we are capable of. We did not create any notable chance after they scored their goal. It was as if we were asking them to keep coming at us while not putting up any attack of our own. I’m of the

Against Iceland we have to win. No too ways about it. A hard job just became a little bit more difficult. Iceland have shown that they could be even more difficult than Croatia. They play very compact football. So very organized that they hardly leave any space for you to operate. We saw how they froze Argentina out and made life difficult for Lionel Messi. If they did that to Messi, you wonder what they can do to us. Yet we have to get a good result against them.

If I was on the coaching crew of the Eagles, the first thing I will say to the players is to calm down. The Croatian game is gone, we cannot help it again except to pick lessons from the game going forward. Then they should psych the players up that Iceland may be difficult but they are very beatable. Then the coach should look for a formation that plays to the strength of the players. We need to play with pace and intelligence, going through the flanks if the middle is too choked. We cannot afford to be one-dimensional and the players must learn to play with urgency. Starting slowly is costing us a lot.

Going into the game against Iceland, there are very many valuable lessons to learn from the 2-0 loss to Croatia. One is self-belief. You are as good as you think you are. You need to believe in yourself and in your ability to bend backwards and do the unexpected. Secondly, they must learn to express themselves better on the ball. I saw a lot of restricted movement sideways and backwards. They should learn to take the game to the opposition. If they wont come to you then you need to take the fight to them. Thirdly, they should not panic or put themselves under unnecessary pressure even when the goals are not coming yet. When you give room for panic, then you make mistakes which could be fatal.

Finally, the fans both in the stadium and at home should not give up on the team. We should support them. Iceland must fall. We must progress. We can make it happen. Up Nigeria!

Mutiu Adepoju, former Super Eagles midfielder, is currently the La Liga Ambassador in Nigeria

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 14
  • Naija Man 5 months ago

    Mutiu,
    I know you want to remain optimistic because you were once an Eagle but this present Eagles have not performed since their away game against Cameroon in Yaounde. They were badly outplayed by Argentina in the 4-2 victory but remember Aguero was already taken to the hospital in the 2nd half? Their only recent victory came via a penalty against Poland. They have consistently struggled ever since.
    Why is Mikel playing advanced midfield role? Why is Ighalo, a #9 has not found the back of the net since his goal against Cameroon in Uyo? Why is Rohr stubbornly sticking to Ighalo when it is obvious we have other players that would have beaten Croatia? In his attempt to justify himself, he said after our Team B sterling perfomance against Atl Madrid that he didn’t regret his selections. Rohr has nothing to lose. He’s, and very close to retirement. He has already made his money (both clean and perhaps briberies).
    ROHR ACTS LIKE A SABOTEUR TO ME.
    My conclusion is that Nigeria will not qualify from the group. Super Eagles will struggle against Iceland who are tall, physical, compact and fast with a very good goalie. Argentina will do everything possible to qualify.

  • Kendo 5 months ago

    Re;Naija man 
    I think we had very wrong tactics today. Modern football entails attacking with fullbacks…We were not doing that today.The right full back Shehu was very weak..Croatians kept using that wing..and Moses kept coming back to assist…Same thing as Iwobi
    The midfield with Mikel was ineffective. He is not a creative midfielder,his use of long balls to locate attackers did not work. The Iceland team are even giants.
    I can go on and on…but let me leave it as it is now

     

    • Kekee 5 months ago

      Kendo,It is a lie. You are following Okotcha faulty and biase analysis. Modrick n co couldn’t take midfield from Mikel,Etebo and ,Ndidi. Mikel use of long balls  to locate striker was an act of a genius. Croatian team has the most compact and experiance midfielders  in world football. They too were also using long balls to locate their top man.JJ was talking from his sense of  football not as a coach .Football has changed.He compared Iwobi a very young and inexperience player with Mikel who is more experience,fearless  n more skillfully. Mikel remain the  most creative midfielder in Nigeria. He has been playing that for eagles since and currently playing so in his china club.Modric play deep in madrid but play 10 for croatia. Alaba play defence for Bayern but play 8 for Austra. For JJ to say the formation was to accomodate Mikel is dispising and biased. He should respect and appreciate  Mikel  n the team for qualifying us without struggling like in JJ era. Like JJ acknowledged,Mikel has won for Nigeria laurels . He qualified Nigeria for round of 16 in 2014. Won Nations cup 2013 and got our name in silver in Olympic in 2017.I know JJ is looking at his time and skills. This era is diiferent and football is result oriented. Mikel has won almost everything in world football except world cup,and who says he will not win this one.How can asuch a respected ex footballer make such careless comments and comparison.You guys like typical Nigerians begin to use it without thinking deep.  wobi is still learning and he plays in the left in Arsenal. And how many times to? This is not 30 mins football. Its 90 Mins. We lost 2-0…remove the likes of Mikel,etc and u will loose 8-0…Check Germany,Mexico ,Argentina,Uruguay, Spain,Portugal,England,just to mention a few,they came with 80% of their 2014 .We cant win World cup or major competition without experiance players who are good or have patient with up coming players.

  • bucho2 5 months ago

    buy the truth, nd sell it nt. Did dis man play mikel as attackin midfielder to assits or to score goal? Nd whc of this has he done in d matches u played him. Moses falls more than tree leaf. Why did u go to d world cup? What did u bring musa to do in dat match? Did u take simeon to d world cup to cook. What did iheanacho do to u? Why ar u playin etebom dip when he is more dangerous up frnt nd can score! ROHR WHO DO U!

    • Kekee 5 months ago

      Buchman,the coach knows more.he has tried etebo n likes.they have not earn experience n maturity to match what you think.etebo could be dangerous to local clubs,but he is shy n scared  before world defenders. Etebo could not even get one pass across to ihanatur when we played south Africa.The problem we have is impatience.we blackmail our senior n experience players to quits too early and yet we do not want to allow the young ones the to mature. See what JJ was saying. Comparing Iwobi creativity with a more skill full n experience Mikel in a world cup match that will last for 90 mins.I’m disappointed by JJ biased analysis in that area . Mikel in that match and technique played 3 positions including falling back to assist Ndidi n Etebo who were playing in a very sensitive role together for the first time. Nigeria game was Chelsea n Atlantic model. The striker usually get long balls or falls back to play n tale the ball to the box for goals. Check the game we had equal scoring opportunity with the Croatians ,even corners but they got goals out off theirs…football luck. Our press already brought down the psychology of our young players by over praising modrivk n his team mates. A very timid press n fans base we have in Nigeria n Africa.They don’t see anything good in their people
       What was Modrivk able to do that day. Did he take midfield from Mikel n Co. Did he drible or displace our defenders to score. Lets Ind our mouth and fears. Black is not a cause but pride. 

  • presh 5 months ago

    Mutiu Adepoju have spoken very well, I hope they win next match.

  • Djeniko 5 months ago

    Adepoju is a calming balm. Its painful that we lost the match. Truths be told, it was a 52%-48% match. Why did the goalkeeper not just dive toward that first goal with an outstretched arm? Why didn’t that coach play the 3-5-2 formation? Why were Etebo, Iwobi, played out of their strong positions? Why was Mikel played out of position? Why was Shehu used instead of Ebuehi? Why why why.

  • I have been following Nigeria for exactly 30 years now (my first tournament was Maroc’ 88) and I have to say that the match against Croatia was one of the worst Nigerian matches I have seen in all my life.

    It was awful so much so I almost threw up!

    It was not the defeat that sickened me but the manner of it.

    Come on!

    Although Morocco, Egypt and Peru lost their first matches, their fans can be proud of their efforts, application, focus and instructions from the coach.

    In our match, the main striker was isolated and when he had the ball he was clueless.

    The midfield kept passing back.

    They considered a goal from a set piece for the umpteenth time.

    The coach was bereft of ideas. The style of football was lame.

    I can go on and on……

    Let’s be clear, I will continue to support Nigerian football at all levels. But this Gernot Rohr’s Eagles will need to do something extraordinary (fast) to win back my heart.

  • Emmanuel 5 months ago

    Nigeria will not win a game if it cannot figure out how to score goals real quick before the next game. I blame the coach. Hiring a German coach will not make us play like the German Mens National Team.
    There was no cohesive display of any effective attack. We often had Moses up in the wing surronded by many Croats AND WITHOUT SUPPORT. OUR SHOTS AT GOAL WERE HIGHLY INEFFECTIVE AND IMPOTENT AT BEST. NO REAL SCORING CHANCE WAS CREATED.WHILE WE ARE THE YOUNGEST TEAM IN THE TOURNAMENT, WE WERE OUTMANNED, BEATEN TO THE PUNCH ON PASSES,AND DID NOT PUT EFFECTIVE BALL PRESSURE ON CROATIA. WE DID NOT SHOW ANY DELIBERATE, CONSCIOUS, ORGANIZED PLAN OF ATTACK WHEN WE HAD THE BALL.GUYS WERE ATTEMPTING TO DRIBBLE WHILE SURROUNDED BY THE OPPONENTS WHO ENDED UP STRIPPING THE BALL AWAY FROM OUR GUYS. QUITE FRANKLY, WE DID NOT PLAY LIKE A TEAM TODAY COMPARED TO THE CROATIANS WHO APPEARED TO FUNCTION AS ONE COHESIVE UNIT WITH SMOOTH TRANSITION FROM DEFENSE TO OFFENSIVE ATTACK.WE NEED MORE GUYS UPFRONT IF WE HOPE TO SCORE GOALS. Today, I often saw 1 or 2 players in the 18 surrounded by 5 Croatian defenders.You  got no snowball chance in hell to score.At this stage you need players to know where other players are when they begin their attack sequence or run.Everybody running down the stream without breaking stride, until a shot is made at the goal.If unsuccessful defenders run back quickly to defend.
    We saw both Iceland & Croatia do that today.Today, our young players appeared lazy, waiting for the ball to come to  them thus  many passes were intercepted.They were very lackadaisical, or careless with ball control and passes.
    Overall, I blame coaching. Rohr NEEDS TO MAKE THE BOYS PLAY LIKE A TEAM. LET THEM LOOSE TO ATTACK, ATTACK, AND ATTACK. NO HOLDING BACK. IF DEFENDERS CANNOT PROTECT OUR GOAL, THEN WE NEED TO FIND THOSE WHO CAN. YOU CANNOT HAVE 1 OR 2 ATTACKERS SURROUNDED BY 5/6 DEFENDERS, AND HOPE TO SCORE AT THIS LEVEL. I WOULD RATHER SEE A 4-3 WIN THAN A 0-0 TIE. YOU MUST SCORE GOALS.
    ALSO THE OFFICIALS DID A LOUSY JOB EARLY IN THE GAME BY ALLOWING EXCESSIVE ROUGH PLAY BY THE CROATIANS. HE ALLOWED THEM TO BLOODY OUR BOYS, TRAMPLE /STEP ON, GRAB AT OUR PLAYERS  WITHOUT ISSUING A YELLOW TICKET. HE FINALLY ISSUED 1 YELLOW TICKET WHICH SETTLED THE CROATIANS JAM BODY TACTICS DOWN. UNFORTUNATELY,THIS EMBOLDENED THE CROATS EARLIER TO TRY MORE INTIMIDATION TACTICS ON OUR YOUNG PLAYERS. NEVERTHELESS, WE NEED TO PUSH THE BALL FORWARD BY ANY AND ALL MEANS  NECESSARY,  AND TO MAKE EACH POSSESSION COUNT. NO WILD SHOTS AT OPPONENT’S GOAL FROM MILES AWAY. THAT WAS SEEN A FEW TIMES TODAY.OUR ATTACKS MUST BE WELL COORDINATED, COHESIVE, SWIFT,AND WITH PURPOSE, AND WITH ENOUGH BODIES IN THE BOX IF WE ARE TO BE SUCCESSFUL.SET PIECES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN OUR DEFENSE ACHILLES HEEL FOR DECADES.THE COACHING STAFF NEEDS TO SERIOUSLY WORK ON THAT. ENOUGH SAID.  

  • Mama Jide Alakara 5 months ago

    Come back home Super chicken we miss you.

  • Akintunde Akinmade 5 months ago

    After the match yesterday, I just left to sleep as I couldn’t believe our super eagles will be this shambolic. Our MVP “Gernot Rorh” refused to come to the party. The formation was suspect, for a power midfield team of the Croatians,how on earth will he employ the 4-2-1-2-1 formation when we have tested and succeeded with the 3-5-2. How can he be learning at the World Cup stage? What is the essence of the friendlies if we repeat our mistakes? To break the team further these are my summations:1. No team has ever won the WC with a foreign coach and I can now see why. The earlier we start to give our indigenous coaches the needed support the better 2. Uzoho though decent is still a greenhorn and remain so. 3.Who gave Victor Moses the charge to play without the team.He was playing all to himself without contributing to the team tactical movement, and diving all over the field as if he was a swimmer. Almost got a yellow card in one of those diving sessions. Was he playing to the coach’s instructions. 4.Mikel has no business being our attacking midfielder, let him revert to his Chelsea role and push Etebor upfront who has a lot to offer. 5. Ighalo should not be our main striker, how many goals has he scored since the Cameroonian strike at Uyo? Even Iheanacho has a better scoring record since the advent of GR.If he must be played, then he should be supported with either Kelechi or Simeon. 6.Iwobi should also be considered for the centre of the pack where his vision and intelligent passes will be put to better use. I still believe if we can correct these lapses we can still ruffle a few feathers. For the Iceland game, we should consider the 3-5-2 and use Ebuehi in the wing back role as wing play is our best bet to open the defensive,calm,colective & calculated Icelandic gang. So my formation will be Uzoho-Ogu, Balogun,Ekong- Ebuehi, Mikel,Ndidi, Etebo, Moses – Simeon & Ighalo. If you look at my formation you’ll find out that I do not have space for Idowu,Victor Moses should be able to man this spot well that he has done couple of times in Chelsea while Ebuehi covers the other flank. Mikel should return to the pivot while Etebor pushed upfront to express himself. Iwobi and Kelechi can come in later when needed to refresh the team. Up Eagles, something tells me we might qualify. So I don’t know why some of our fickle and fair weather fans like Naija man just dey para after one match.

  • For the love of God, GR should try 3 5 2 formation if there’s any hope of challenging for a slot in the nock out stages in this WC. The two right backs are key ingridiants and they a make contribution in the final third by joining the attacl. Bringing in crosses and creating scoring opportunities for other players. It was evidently clear everytime we had position, it appears the number of players in the MD fall short of making themselves available for transition from defense to take attack.
    Shehu is good in the defense no doubt, i give it to him but the lad doesn’t offer much compared to EBUIHI going forward.
    I have faith for Nigeria to go pass the remaining two games 3 5 2 will be Super Eagles reborn.

    https://www.google.com.ng/amp/s/www.dailytrust.com.ng/amplite/nigeria-s-ebuehi-is-ado-den-haag-s-best-dribbler.html

    In all sincerity GR should have his head examined.

    Taking Echijele in place of Aina who is just there to make up the numbers is something i can’t explain.

    I wish to make a prediction and i want to make it loud and clear, mark this day folks. GR, please Drop Shehu play Ebuihi, we’ll not be coming back home after group stage.

    Also note, Mikel is still not 100% fit, bring in Ogu/Kelechi at 60th min if our frgile defense has not let us down.

    Looking forward to playing Croatia sometimes in the future. The players only needs to believe they can and not be intimidated by big nakes.