Sunshine Stars coach Henry Abiodun has claimed that considering the caliber of other Group D oppositions, he does not expect the Super Eagles to progress past the group stage of the 2018 World Cup.
On Saturday, in their opening fixture, Croatia defeated Nigeria 2-0, punishing them off their profligacy to defend corner kicks.
Nonetheless, Abiodun says that he, unlike the 'emotional' lot, was not surprised by the Eagles’ failings – which has been evident ever since their glorious run in the qualifying series – and does not expect them to get the better of Iceland nor Argentina.Sunshine Stars Coach Henry Abiodun
“A lot of people have actually talked. They are emotional Nigerians but anyone that is truthful and doesn’t deceive him or herself won’t expect more than he saw on Saturday,” Abiodun told Goal.
“If you look at our last two friendlies in the build-up to the World Cup finals you will understand what I am trying to say. Even though we qualified in a fantastic manner in that light, the way we qualified for the World Cup indicated that we were not yet there, but typical of Nigerian fans and analysts when they are winning they don’t see anything wrong in the team.
“Ighalo did not do anything other than he has been doing in the previous games. How many goals has he scored in the last Eagles matches? Mikel again has not done anything wrong [against Croatia]. He has been doing what he used to do before now.
“Basically we showed what we used to do. We cannot be doing the same thing and expect a different result. The World Cup is a very big event. It is the biggest stage and if you want to play at the World Cup you must be ready to up your game. We saw the way Mexico and Germany did so. We saw the level of play, the hunger and the fact that every player played to their strength.
“If you look at our structure in the pitch on Saturday there was no reaction in the second half to the goal that was scored in the first half to change what we have been doing. It was also not proper that we played Etebo as a holding midfielder instead of as an offensive midfielder.
“Ighalo was also left isolated when we have a player like Iheanacho that can support him. When you play Mikel to support the attack you tend to ask questions if he is an auxiliary attacker or a supporting striker. For example, how many games did he play [at Chelsea and currently with Tianjin Teda] and with how many goals has he scored to be given such delicate role?
Although the Sunshine Stars boss admitted that it would be easier said than done for Nigeria to progress, Abiodun stressed that there is the need for a lot of psychological work ahead of Iceland tie, with bold changes from the side that faced Croatia complementing it.
This article was most recently revised and updated 12 months ago