The Super Eagles of Nigeria started off their campaign with a 2-0 loss to Croatia following an own goal conceded in the first half by Etebo and spot-kick courtesy of Modric which gave the European side their first ever victory since making debut in the World Cup in 1998.
The loss leaves the question of whether the highly-rated African side who actually became the first African side to pick the Russia 2018 World Cup ticket can still make it to the round of 16.
Nigeria are now to face Iceland before meeting a Messi-led Argentine side to determine if they could still scale through to the round of 16.
Realistically speaking, the Super Eagles have failed to get a whole lot of things right in their opener and these were practically noticed during their friendlies before the World Cup proper.
It took Odion Ighalo 59th minutes to make his first shot on target which happens to be the longest wait for a first attempt on target in a World Cup match so far this tournament. This performance is a clear indication that the Super Eagles have a weak attack that lacks the quality to face a determined European side.
More so, the Super Eagles under Gernot Rohr have failed to improve on their World Cup match after conceding the first goal, a record which they have kept in their last seven World Cup games. The result is an indication that the technical bench have not addressed pending tactical issues which affects the team.
In his tactical submission at half time, former Super Eagles play-maker Austin Jay Jay Okocha who was a pundit in the Nigeria vs Croatia match observed that Alex Iwobi was not properly utilized to get the best out of him in the match, a trend which started during Nigeria’s friendlies where Iwobi was consistently made to play behind Mikel Obi.
Nigeria will be facing a more determined Iceland in their next match, though they will be hoping to get a win but they will require more of their recent performance to even get a draw against and Iceland side that have a group of dual professionals.
Most of the Iceland players are professionals from different works of life such as Medical Doctors and others, their decision to play for their nation is as a result of a long-term football developmental plan by their government which gradually paid off and make them play as more of professional volunteers rather than considering football as a full time profession.
Iceland forced Argentina to a 1-1 draw in their opener, leaving them with the chance of going out to get a win against a Nigerian side that have appeared to be weak on European soil but better on an African soil.
Aside Iceland, trying to break the jinx against Argentina in the World Cup may be a project which the German manager Gernot Rohr did not plan to encounter, when he had a chat with this writer sometime in January this year during the CAF award in Ghana.
While it it very possible for a miracle to happen and the Nigerian side reach the round of 16, the practical reality is that the Super Eagles of Nigeria with their current form can not go beyond the Group stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.