Exclusive by Johnny Edward:
Former Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, has warned that the three-time African Champions must be prepared to face a very dynamic midfield from Croatia in their opening group game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Completesportsnigeria.com (CSN) reports.
Nigeria who are making their sixth appearance at the FIFA World Cup will take on the Vatreni in their opening game before battling Iceland and Argentina in their remaining fixtures.
Analysing the strength and weaknesses of Nigeria’s opponents at the World Cup, the former Fortuna Sittard manager, told CSN in an exclusive interview that the trio of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic offers Croatia a lot of dynamism and qualities playing in different roles comfortable.
“I hope they (Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic) burn out,” Oliseh joked as he started in exclusive chat with CSN.
“Their qualities are so immense, such that they can function very well when they are pressed for the ball and they are equally dangerous when they get the freedom to operate.”
“Croatia also have an all round aggressive team and we (Nigeria) must watch that.
“For Iceland, they are very organized and discplined tactically and physical. In fact, they enjoy the combativeness of the game and that’s another aspect our team must be ready for.”
The former Super Eagles captain also admits that the wealth of experience the Argentine team has already makes them the favourites from the Group D, but advises that stopping Lionel Messi remains key to recording a victory against the Albicelsete.
“We all see him (Messi) play every week for Barcelona, so he’s the main man. He’s also eager to win the World Cup after the heartache at the last World Cup final in Brazil.
“Stopping him, we need at least two of our midfielders to be very conscious of their positional play for 90 minutes and also cut out all return pass to him. Messi is a team player, and aside taking on players one against one, his crisp passes can create chances to score.”