By Duro Ikhazuagbe in St Petersburg
Super Eagles central midfielder, William Troost Ekong, believes Nigeriaâ€™s clash with Iceland on Friday will be a different game from the 2-0 defeat the team suffered in the opening game to Croatia.
The Bursaspor defender in the Turkish league said that with the defeat, Nigeria will have no other option but to play to pick maximum points against the Icelanders.
â€œIt is going to be a different type of game from what we played against Croatia. We hope to pick maximum points going into our last game against Argentina,â€ stressed the Eagles star who wrestled down Juventus front man Mario Mandzukic for the penalty that earned Croatia the second goal in Kaliningrad.
Despite the defeat, Ekong said that the one-all draw played out by favourites Argentina and Iceland has sort of make Eagles future bright if they are able to take their chances.
â€œThe result has worked in our favour. We saw that game before playing Croatia. So like I said, all we need to do now is work hard at it and focus on getting the result,â€ said the defender whose partnership with Leon Balogun has earned them the moniker â€˜Oyinbo Wallâ€™ amongst Nigerian football fans.
A Nigerian coach, who is based in the UK, Tope John Phillips, but is here in St Petersburg for the Mundial, told THISDAY Monday that Eagles would have won the game or get a draw if only Coach Gernot Rohr had repeated switching to the 3-5-2 he adopted in the second half of the friendly with Argentina in the opening game with Croatia.
â€œI think the problem with the team last Saturday was not that Eagles played really badly. It was tactics that failed Rohr. He gave the star-studded Croatian midfield the room to dictate the play. The rule in coaching is that when you know the strength of your opponent, you play the system that will frustrate them,â€ observed the coach to THISDAY Monday morning here in St Petersburg.
â€œAre there some sacred cows in the team that cannot be substituted even when the team is playing badly? We should have been able to get a result, at least a draw against the Croatians if Rohr had done the right thing,â€ stressed Phillips.
He said that when it became obvious to the coaching crew that the Croatians had discovered Shehu Abdullahi and Bryan Idowu as the weak links in the back four, changes ought to have been made to take away the bombardment suffered by Eagles defence.
â€œIf I was in charge of the team, all I should have done was to bring in Tyronne Ebuehi for Shehu and (Elderson) Echiejile for the floundering Idowu. Again, It appears Mikel is above the law and cannot be substituted even when he was ineffective and his slow game was creating problems in the middle. I think John Ogu would have brought life to that department of the match and allow Iwobi and Oghenekaro Etebo to rove freely in front of both defensive midfielders (Wilfred Ndidi and Ogu),â€ the UK based coach said.