Technical Adviser of the Super Eagles Gernot Rohr has said Nigeria have their destiny in their hands after watching his side crumble to an opening Group D defeat to Croatia on Saturday in Kaliningrad.
Midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal and a well-taken penalty by Real Madrid star Luka Modric handed the Croats a 2-0 win, a result that sent the 1998 semi-finalists to the summit of the standings in the ‘group of death’.
Despite the defeat, Rohr remains optimistic that Nigeria, who are now bottom of the group, can still advance to the knockout stage of the 2018 World Cup.
“Of course it is important now to make at least 4 points if you want to be qualified (for the second round), the 64-year old former Burkina Faso and Gabon coach said. “We are only 1 point behind (Argentina and Iceland) at the moment. Nothing is lost.
“All is in our hands. So let’s be positive and believe that we can do it.
“We have the youngest team in this World Cup, let them learn from this match, from this defeat, and try to do better.”
Earlier on Saturday, debutants Iceland held 2-time champions Argentina to a 1-1 draw, and Rohr acknowledged the brilliance of the tiny European nation, adding that Nigeria are capable of performing better than they did against Croatia.
“We saw this good game of Iceland against Argentina – a very strong team. We know that they (Iceland) are able to do very well. But I think we also can do better than what we did today (against Croatia).”
The Super Eagles will next face Iceland on Friday, 22 June at the Volgograd Arena before confronting Argentina four days later in Saint Petersburg, as they hope to reignite their quest for qualification to the second round.
However, a defeat to Iceland on Friday will see Nigeria eliminated from the competition.