The Super Eagles of Nigeria crashed out of the 2018 World Cup after losing 2-1 to Argentina in the final round of the group stage matches. A match that determined the fate of both countries.
The match went as one would have expected – for the most part. but there were a lot of lapses in judgement that cost us a much-needed victory. Many people attributed the loss to racism, the referee being too impartial, and FIFA wanting Argentina and Messi to qualify to further their own financial agenda (politics eh?! pfft!), and even though the Super Eagles were at a loss, there were 5 very glaring reasons that made Nigeria lose the match against Argentina.
Another Striker strikes blanks
The first question is, ‘why, o why do Edo strikers always miss glorious chances at the World Cup?’ Chances that if scored, would have seen us qualify to the next round.
Rewind to 2010 and we were all shouting and spitting some very hefty words when Yakubu Aiyegbeni missed that glorious chance against South Korea, and now Ighalo did the same thing against Argentina. What’s worse was the fact that he now started crying for a penalty after he missed his chance. Pfft!
Failing to park the bus
I actually can’t believe I’m saying this, but God bless Mourinho for inventing the ‘parking the bus’ tactic and Diego Simeone for perfecting it. It’s a textbook tactic. When the current scoreline is favourable to you and you aren’t looking to score extra, especially when you are playing against a team that’s stronger than you, YOU PARK THE BUS!!!
So why in the Lord’s name would Gernot Rohr decide not to park the bus from starting from when the time was between 75-80th minute. If he had brought in more defenders, the defence would have been too choked up and Argentina wouldn’t have been able to breakthrough. Instead, he watched as Argentina brought in three new strikers, and it was only after Rojo put the Argentines back in front that Rohr brought in Iwobi (who is an attacker). That in no way favoured Nigeria. Wrong tactics! Very wrong!
Little to no Nigerian fans in the stadium
There is something about playing in front of your own crowd that gets you hyped and motivated to make sure you win just so that you can bring smiles to the faces of the fans in the stadium. Now even though about 150 million Nigerians were watching the match from a television screen, the stadium itself was packed with 98% Argentines and there were just about 2% Nigerians in the stands. It may not have seemed like much, but trust me, people cheering you on live and direct, and hearing the people in the stands cheer you on is a great motivator. Look at how Argentina were celebrating with their fans after.
Believing in superstitions and animal predictions
Nigerians will believe in anything! Maybe we are that gullible, but many people (and probably the players themselves) believed the pig and the cat that said Nigeria was going to reach the semi-final and also win Argentina respectively. If we had trusted our effort, put in more work, practised and employed the right tactics, we would have gone very far. Not believing in spiritual forces or animal predictions and co.
The right players failing to turn up
Asides from Ahmed Musa, the midfielders and the defenders, the other players all failed to turn up at the 2018 World Cup. Especially the attackers; Ighalo, Iwobi, and Iheanacho were all disastrous at this tournament. Ighalo missed glorious chances that would have helped us qualify, Iheanacho was too selfish with the ball (probably why Pep Guardiola dropped and sold him off and he barely gets playing time at Leicester City), and Iwobi did absolutely nothing to write home about all through the tournament (even the few times he played). The three of them put up very shameful performances. Also, with Victor Moses falling anyhow and only Ahmed Musa trying in the attack, it was quite difficult for the Super Eagles to get anything on goal or create/take chances.
Well, regardless, the Super Eagles still did us proud because no one expected them to tension the group like that and cause that much of a ruckus. And the fact that it feels like the system being against us helped Argentina qualify is enough proof!
Soar Super Eagles, Soar!