Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Coach Gernot Rohr has insisted that he believes his young team will progress to the second round from the highly competitive Group D.
Nigeria reached the knockout phase at the 2014 World Cup, but slipped to a 2-0 defeat in their Group D opener against Croatia in Kaliningrad, courtesy of an Oghenekaro Etebo own-goal and a Luka Modric penalty.
Their side, including 19-year-old goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, were almost unrecognizable from the team beaten by France in the last 16 four years ago.
“Sometimes we were a little bit naive on set pieces but we will work on it,” said Rohr.
Iceland are buoyant after what their coach Heimir Hallgrimsson described as a “schoolbook example” of how to defend against Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
Messi complained that “Iceland didn’t want to play” but the Nordic minnows, playing in their first-ever World Cup, were unimpressed by the criticism.
“Maybe he would have been happier if we had played attacking football and lost 5-0. People can have their opinion about it but we really don’t care,” said goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson.
The Nigeria game in Volgograd will be “a bit more open,” said the 34-year-old ‘keeper, whose string of saves, most notably from a Messi penalty, kept the 2014 finalists at bay.
“Nigeria will be difficult to beat. They are fast and more direct than Argentina. It will be a different game in many ways,” he added.
Rohr believes his team could still make it out of a highly competitive group.
“We are only one point behind (Iceland) and all is in our hands, so let’s be positive. Let them learn from this defeat (against Croatia) and try to do better,” said the former Bordeaux coach.
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