Nigeria schooled as Africa continues to wait for a first win in Russia
The Super Eagles became the third African team to lose at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, following defeats to Egypt and Morocco.
First it was Egypt who lost to Uruguay, then Morocco followed suit with another agonizing loss to Iran.
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However, there was still hope that Nigeria would bring redemption to the continent in their game against Croatia. That hope, though, has been whisked away as the Super Eagles fell flat to their European counterparts.
On a night when many expected a fight, Nigeria simply failed to turn up with the Croats recording an easy 2-0 victory.
The World Cup has always proved to be a tough challenge for African teams. In the history of the tournament, the best finish for an African side remains the quarter-final stage – a record jointly held by Ghana and Senegal.
But if the signs in Russia are anything to go by, then the continent is nowhere close to producing a world champion.
On Saturday, Nigeria were simply schooled by a side not so much better than they are. Once Luka Modric stabbed home the Croat’s second, it was obvious that the Super Eagles were headed for another frustrating defeat.
The lack of fight from African teams is one thing, but their inability to believe when on the world stage is another problem all together.
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When Egypt lost to Uruguay it was their lack of ambition that ultimately proved to be their undoing. Whiles the South Americans were pushing for a winner late on, the Pharaohs preferred to sit back and be content with a draw.
In the case of Morocco, it was clear that the Atlas Lions went into the game against Iran ill prepared. Today, Nigeria simply refused to fight and challenge for the second balls. A team containing attacking options like Alex Iwobi, Idion Ighalo, Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho should be offering way better than Nigeria did against Croatia.
It’s heartbreak again for Africa in Russia, but perhaps hopes can now be turned to Senegal and Tunisia to redeem the continent.