Former Super Eagles’ captain, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha has opined that the inability of the country’s players to be consistent affected them in Tuesday’s match against Argentina, and caused their exit from Russia 2018 World Cup.
However, while also noting that the Eagles could not convert all chances that came their way and eventually caved in to loss of concentration during the latter minutes of their final Group D match, ‘Jay Jay’ submitted that the players gave the best they could.
‘The Emperor’ also reasoned that the young ages of the Nigerian players also played a key part in their defeat, as he reckoned that the team was laced with a very limited level of the type of experience required for the World Cup.
Okocha said during his live analysis of the match: “Uzoho kept us in the game with the saves he made in the second half. We panicked in the first half.
“If you want to be a bit harsh. We were not clear to keep more players in attack. We were limited in terms of experience.
“It was a gift from Mascherano but then I thought we started the second half better. We got ourselves in better places. It was a fantastic penalty from Moses but I think we should have put them under more pressure.”
Speaking on what appeared to be a clear penalty that was denied the Eagles, the former Bolton Wanderers and Hull City playmaker said the Nigerian team did not put pressure on the referee to award them the kick.
He said: “Nobody appealed under the referee. We know what the Argentines are like. Rojo got away with one.”
On Wilfred Ndidi’s chance in the 76th minute, Okocha added: “He had more time to keep the ball down to take a good shot. Scoring is not his thing but I feel he should have kept the ball a close more to take a better shot.”
On Odion Ighalo’s misses, Okocha’s said: “It was a glorious chance, the ball sat down well for him. If I was Ighalo I would try to force a save from the goalkeeper. If you don’t hit the target you don’t get your job done.”
On the late goal the team conceded, the former PSG star concluded: “We’ve seen so many late goals in this tournament. Poor defending.
“Moses reacted late. I have seen him deal with that at Chelsea. I can’t fault the effort of the player, they gave their best.
“It was going to be tough for us and it lived up to that. It went to the last three minutes, but I think we have to look at the bigger picture.
“Most of these players it was the first time. For the manager he did well. It’s about continuity. We don’t have to point fingers at anyone.”