Super Eagles’ manager, Gernot Rohr has told a South African publication, Soccer Laduma, the reasons why his team got close to crossing the Russia 2018 Group hurdle, but crumbled with barely four minutes to regulation time.
In an interview conducted by David Kappel, Rohr remarked that the June 26 encounter with Argentina at Saint Petersburg was a “great game that had everything – technique, tactic, fight and excitement”.
But he lamented that the match was as if it was played in Buenos Aires, the Argentina capital city.
The crowd, mainly argentine fans far outnumbered the Nigerian supporters at the stadium.
According to him, the atmosphere was a bit tricky for his younger players to settle into the game.
“We needed a bit of time, which has been similar against Croatia and Iceland. The fans inside the stadium were always the 12th man against us. It hindered us a bit in the beginning. But in the second half, we were dominant.
“Our young team played on the same level as Argentina, who were runners-up four years ago and one of the superpowers in international football.
“We just need to look at the players that can come off the bench, Sergio Aguero for example. It is a sort of luxury and l think we managed to keep up with them, despite having a young learn.
“And that is, for me, something positive. Also, the game against Iceland and the second half against Croatia had many positives. But despite the small negative things, like a hit of naivety and a bit of lack in fitness towards the end of the Argentina game in the last 10 minutes, which I think is based on the one day’s less rest before the match, Argentina had one day more, despite these we ran build on our performance.
“And our project is now focused on the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as well as the next World Cup. These ore our targets! We have players aged 19, 21, 22 who are all first eleven and we can be positive that they will improve in future”.