Nigeria’s World Cup campaign started with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Croatia at the Kaliningrad Stadium today.
An own goal from Super Eagles midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo gave Croatia a half-time lead in Russia, before Luka Modric secured all three points with a second-half penalty to cap off an efficient performance against a lacklustre Super Eagles.
The outcome of this contest was largely predictable since that penalty was converted. Nigeria could well have got something from the contest had they shown the slightest bit of endeavour.
Croatia picked them up when necessary and have come away with a functional win that takes them top of Group D, ahead of Argentina, Iceland and the Super Eagles.
Here, Futbalgalore.com takes a look at performance of the Eagles in the Group D clash.
Francis Uzoho: He was often exposed by his defenders. Not at fault for the two goals. 5/10
Shehu Abdullahi: Didn’t pose much of a threat in an attacking sense on the right flank and was the man Croatia targeted most in the game. 3/10
Bryan Idowu: Was something of a weak point at times for Nigeria. 3/10
Leon Balogun: Looked uncomfortable on the ball and did well when called upon. 5/10
William Troost-Ekong: Made a shaky start, giving the ball away a few times in the opening exchanges. His tug with Mario Mandzukic that resulted in the spot kick summed up his performance. 3/10
Wilfred Ndidi: Solid enough throughout the game, although his teammates let him down. 5/10
Oghenekaro Etebo: His gritty performance was overshadowed by the unfortunate own goal. The Stoke City new signing wasn’t carried away by the big occasion. 6/10
John Obi Mikel: Didn’t have as much of an influence on this game. Offered very little going forward. 4/10
Odion Ighalo: He posed very little threat to Croatia’s defence. Didn’t do anything wrong particularly, but was a victim of his side’s unwillingness to play good football. 4/10
Victor Moses: Made some good bursts forward and was the most creative Nigerian on the pitch. However, his decision-making and ball retention skills still need to improve. 5/10
Alex Iwobi: Also tried to inject some positivity in Eagles’ attacks with some good runs and clever footwork. It was a surprise to see him give way for Ahmed Musa. 5/10
Ahmed Musa: Came on shortly before the hour mark and had a few decent touches here and there, but didn’t have too great an impact on the match. 4/10
Kelechi Iheanacho: Replaced Ighalo in the 73rd minute but, like the Changchun Yatai man, failed to really threaten Croatia’s defence during his time on the field. 4/10
Simeon Nwankwo: Had two minutes to make an impact but could do nothing special in that time. 4/10