Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has attributed his side’s 2-0 loss to Croatia in Saturday’s World Cup game to defensive naivety.
Despite matching the Croats in terms of ball possession, Zlatko Dalić’s men took the points through goals from Oghenekaro Etebo, who diverted Mario Mandzukic’s wayward header into his own net following a cornerkick, and Luka Modric’s penalty after William Troost-Ekong, who tried to prevent Mandzukic from connecting with a corner, was adjudged to have wrapped his arms around the striker.
Rohr said, “We are disappointed because we don’t like to lose but we must recognise Croatia had the better team,” the Nigeria coach told a post-match media conference.
“My young team made some mistakes from corners, we worked from them so much but both goals came from corners, which I find a little bit… There were also so many fouls in the other box that could have been penalties but we have to accept the defeat.
The coach praised his team’s organization but admitted his forwards failed to live up to expectation.
“Of course, you are not satisfied with the attack when you do not score, we were satisfied with our defensive organisation but we didn’t have so many opportunities to score.
“I think the organisation was OK, we didn’t concede in open play. We conceded twice in set-pieces so it is not a question of tactics or system.
“I was satisfied with the organisation but we need to be more professional from set-pieces.”
Nigeria turn their attention to Friday’s fixture against Iceland, who played out a 1-1 draw with Argentina in the group’s opening match.
And although the Super Eagles now have a seemingly difficult task, Rohr is not giving up hope of leading his side into the knockout stages of the tournament.
“It’s important to make at least four points if you want to qualify,” Rohr added.
“We are only a point behind for the moment, nothing is lost and all is in our hands.
“Let’s be positive, we have the youngest team at the World Cup, let them learn and try to do better.
“We saw Iceland have a good game against Argentina, a very strong team, but we can also do better than what we did today.
“We have to win against Iceland but all is possible still. If we win the next game all is possible for qualification.”