World Cup Focus: Gernot Rohr confident of a knockout spot

World Cup Focus: Gernot Rohr confident of a knockout spot
Nigeria's head coach Gernot Rohr reacts during the International Friendly soccer match between England and Nigeria at Wembley in London, Britain, 02 June 2018. EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

by Phumzile Ngcatshe

Monday Jun 18, 2018. 17:00

The Nigerian national team coach, Gernot Rohr insists the Super Eagles can still qualify for the knockout stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Despite losing 2-0 to Croatia on Saturday night, the manager has shifted his focus to their upcoming match against Iceland this coming Friday.

After taking responsibility for his side’s errors in defending set-pieces, Rohr is confident of his team’s qualification from the group if they get the maximum points against Iceland, who held Argentina to a 1-1 draw.

Although he expressed his disappointment, he reserved praise for Arsenal star Alex Iwobi and Leicester City's Ahmed Musa with the latter having 'a good chance of starting' in their next fixture.

"We are disappointed. We recognise that Croatia had the better team tonight and my young players made mistakes, again on the corners,” Rohr said after the game.

“The first goal was a corner, the second goal a penalty from a corner. There were also many fouls in the other box, they could have also given a penalty for us. Now we have to win against Iceland. If we win the next game, all is possible for qualification.

“Iwobi did good initially and then Musa came on and showed his speed. He has a good chance of starting the next game, we'll see.

On whether the massive support received by the Croats at the Kaliningrad Stadium had a negative impact on his team, Rohr insists it was rather the gulf in quality between both sides.

"It was a match like in Croatia. What I like is the quality of our supports coming from so far away. It's not the number of supporters that is important, it's the quality of them," added the manager.

“It was like if we played in Croatia, in Zagreb or somewhere, but it was not the reason we lost the game, it was because of mistakes. The players thanked our fans, we keep smiling and we will try to be better in the next game.”

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