Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State Senator Godswill Akpabio has disclosed that his instruction at half time was crucial to Nigeria’s 2-0 win against Iceland in Volvograd on Friday.
After a barren first half, Ahmed Musa struck two well-taken goals in the second half to hand the Super Eagles a heart-warming victory over the Vikings, to resuscitate their chances of advancing to the knockout stage of the World Cup.
Senator Akpabio, who is part of a high-powered Federal Government delegation to Russia, revealed afterwards how things changed for the Eagles in the second half.
“I told them that they needed to change their pattern of play, that there was need for us to incur into the other half, because in the first game, we were playing mostly in our half,” he said. “And there’s no way you can score a goal when you are mostly passing balls around your 18 (yard box), exactly what they did almost in the first half.
“So I complained to (Nwankwo) Kanu and said ‘please rush to the coach, tell the coach that there was need for them to change the pattern of play, and incur more into their area’, because they are not used to such ferocious attack. They are used to seeing us play in our own half, passing and passing and passing. And then, we would be delaying for nothing.
“But the moment we went towards them; sending it to their 18 (yard box), and going towards their 18 (yard box), they were bound to make mistakes, not only making mistakes, they were bound to get confused. Because that wasn’t the pattern they are used to. That wasn’t the pattern of play they studied. And that exactly worked.”
Nigeria will next face old rivals Argentina on Tuesday at St. Petersburg, with a win guaranteeing Gernot Rohr’s men a place in the second round. A draw would be enough provided Iceland don’t defeat Croatia by a 3-goal margin.