The Super Eagles held a crisis meeting behind under-fire Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr on Monday night as they try to turn things around their precarious position at the Russia 2018 World Cup ahead of their next fixture against Iceland on Friday.
Nigeria are in grave danger of an early World Cup exit after opening their campaign in the tournament with a 2-0 defeat to Croatia in Kaliningrad on Saturday. The three-time African champions must win the clash at Volgograd Arena to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the second round of the championship.
The Punch reports that a below-par Croat side fired by La Liga stars Lukas Modric and Ivan Rakitc ran out winners after an analogue Nigerian team failed to deal with dead ball situations.
New Stoke City midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo, who was the shining light in the hapless Rohr’s side, inadvertently directed the ball into his own net, while William Troost-Ekong gave away a needless penalty converted by the Man-of-Match Real Madrid midfielder Modric.
The Punch learnt that the players were not happy with Rohr’s team approach to the encounter in which China-based forward Odion Ighalo was isolated, Chelsea wing-back Victor Moses rendered a mediocrity showing and young Arsenal attacker Alex Iwobi was anonymous until he was substituted.
Camp sources told The Punch on Tuesday that the seething players allegedly held a meeting where they resolved to give their all against the fearless Nordic side who made Argentina superstar Lionel Messi look ordinary in their 1-1 draw at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on Saturday.
“The players reviewed their performances in the match against Croatia and resolved to hold talks with the coach before the game,” the source said.
The source also claimed that captain Mikel Obi has come under pressure from his colleagues to persuade Rohr to feature players in their natural positions and also to play two strikers upfront.
Meanwhile, Israel-based John Ogucould lands a starting role with Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi dropping to the bench.
Ndidi, whose fitness has a question mark, emerged as one of the flops against Croatia, a tie in which Etebo was a revelation.
It was also learnt that Rohr wants players who can match the combative and athletic Iceland side, with players of an average 1.90m in height.
It was also learnt that the former Gabon manager could retain striker Odion Ighalo in his line-up and hand Ahmed Musa a starting role as he seeks to break down Iceland’s team.