There Was No Creative Player For Nigeria - Okocha Speaks On Croatia Defeat

Former Nigeria international, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha has slammed Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr for his tactical approach that led to the team’s defeat to Croatia in their 2018 FIFA World Cup opener.

The Eagles kicked off their World Cup campaign on a disappointing note as they fell 2-0 to Croatia at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia on Saturday night.

An own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo on 33 minutes and a well-taken penalty by Luka Modric in the 70th minute gave the Croatians the win.

Okocha, who is serving as a guest analyst on SuperSport, said the reason for the loss was because the Nigerian players were fielded in wrong positions; that the team did not get the best out of Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses because Rohr was trying to accommodate Mikel Obi.

“The reason we lost was because we played our best players out of their positions,” the former skipper of the national team said.

“We didn’t have a creative player today. Mikel has been a good servant to the national team. His best position is playing in front of the defence. We saw what he did playing for Chelsea where he had a glorious career.

“The most creative player in that team is Alex Iwobi but he was played on the flanks. He (Iwobi) can play on the flanks at Arsenal because they had better players in that role like Mesut Ozil.

“Playing Mikel in that position didn’t help Moses and Iwobi on the flanks.”

Okocha, who represented Nigeria at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 editions of the World Cup, added: “The manager didn’t earn his money today. We were not a threat in the first half and I was expecting him to play three at the back, five players in the midfield and two strikers to the team a chance to get back into the game.

“It is sad because I know we can do better than this. Of course there is still hope but we have to do it the hard way now,” he stated.

As it stands, Croatia sit at the top of the group with three points, followed by Argentina and Iceland with one point each, while Nigeria sit at the bottom.

The Eagles will hope to reboost their chances of surviving the group when they face Iceland in their next game on Friday June 22.