Wednesday 19 September 2018

Gernot Rohr thinks Nigeria are ahead of schedule in team’s development

Nigeria will reach the last 16 if they beat Argentina.

Nigeria earned their first win of the tournament (Darko Vojinovic/AP)
Nigeria earned their first win of the tournament (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

By Press Association Sport staff

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr believes his team will not peak for another four years despite his side’s 2-0 win against Group D rivals Iceland.

Leicester striker Ahmed Musa’s second-half double in Volgograd kick-started Nigeria’s World Cup after defeat to Croatia in their opening match.

The Super Eagles’ win means they, Argentina, who they face in their final match, and Iceland still have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.

“What I like in my young team is humility, solidarity and fighting spirit,” Rohr told a press conference after his side had come alive in the second half at the Volgograd Arena.

“I thought before this World Cup we were here to learn. I think this team will be ready in 2022 and this World Cup is coming early, but we have a good chance to win against Argentina.”

A win would take Nigeria through to the knockout rounds while a draw will be enough providing Iceland do not beat group leaders Croatia by a big enough margin.

Musa, drafted into Rohr’s starting line-up after the opening defeat to Croatia, ignited an uninspiring game early in the second period.

He brilliantly fired the Super Eagles into a 49th-minute lead and the hit the crossbar before adding a second with another excellent goal in the 75th minute.

“I think scoring against Argentina isn’t that difficult for me,” Musa said. “We know the importance of the game. It’s do or die, we have to win.”

ipanews_9cc3725d-62c4-4a36-af5d-e9911ec555a2_embedded237146356
Ahmed Musa scores his second goal of the game (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson remained upbeat despite seeing Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson miss an 83rd-minute penalty for his side.

“It’s a strange fact that we are still in the race,” Hallgrimsson said. “We didn’t think we would go through this World Cup without a loss and losses are always difficult to swallow.

“But we only need to beat Croatia, which is possibly easier to say than do.”

Croatia top the group after 2-0 and 3-0 wins against Nigeria and Argentina respectively, but Hallgrimsson is undaunted.

“We’ve played Croatia four times in four years and we’ve often said we’re like a married couple trying to get divorced but we always meet up again,” he added.

“They’ve had two really, really good performances in the World Cup.

“The last one was a shining example of how good Croatia is, but that also gives us confidence because we were ahead of them in our (qualifying) group and have already beaten them once in Iceland.”

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport