Monday Jul 02, 2018. 12:00
Nigerian defender Brian Idowu says coach Gernot Rohr is not to blame for the Super Eagles’ early exit from the 2018 World Cup.
Nigeria went to Russia 2018 as one of Africa’s best hopes to represent the continent with pride. And while the West African powerhouses did not disgrace themselves, defeats to both Croatia and Argentina saw them finish third in Group D and exit the tournament in the first round.
Rohr has taken heavy criticism for his failure to respond to Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli’s attacking substitutions in the 2-1 loss last week which ended their hopes at the World Cup.
Russian-born Idowu, who endured a torrid time against Lionel Messi in the match, admitted Nigeria’s player made serveral mistakes during the encounter and is adamant that Rohr shouldn’t shoulder the blame alone.
“Our failure to qualify for the next round was not as a result of poor tactics,” the 26-year-old told Punch Nigeria.
“The coach is good; he did his best for us to win the match but we made some mistakes in the dying minutes when we could have left the pitch with a draw.
“It’s painful but it’s no shame losing to Argentina because they are a big team, but we could have beaten them here.”
Idowu added that the team had learnt some lessons from the defeat, saying they would focus on qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
“The experience I have gathered playing in the World Cup will help me in my career. I have learnt a lot just like my colleagues,” he explained.
“We have put the World Cup disappointment behind us and focused on qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.”