- Mikel remains bitter over refereeâ€™s refusal to give a second penalty
Duro IkhazuagbeÂ in St Petersburg
After exiting the ongoing FIFA World Cup here in RussiaÂ on TuesdayÂ nightÂ with the 2-1 loss to Argentina, some members of the Super Eagles are expected to touch down in Nigeria today.
Eagles who narrowly lost the Group D second ticket to the Lionel Messi inspired South American nation, left Moscow for Lagos yesterday morning via Dubai on an Emirates flight.
Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) Second Vice President, Shehu Dikko, accompanied the players on the flight to Nigeria in company with some other top sports officials.
However, it was not all the 23 players who were in Russia for the Mundial that are going to arrive in Nigeria today. Most of the Europe-based players, NFF sources here confirmed left for their respective cities to join their families on vacations before heading to pre-season training camps.
Â â€œThe NFF will meet with the coaches of the team later next week to discuss the programme for the Africa of Nations Cup qualifiers starting next month.
Meanwhile, Captain of the team, John Mikel Obi, remains very said over the decision of Turkish referee, Cuneyt Cakir not to award Nigeria a deserved second penalty.
Â ”I don’t understand how that wasn’t a penalty, for me it was a clear handball, clear penalty,” Mikel said at the post-match press conferenceÂ on TuesdayÂ night.
”If you watched the Portugal match, that wasn’t even close to this, this was even worse, this was open, clear case of a penalty. The ball hit Marcos Rojoâ€™s hand,â€ stressed the former Chelsea midfielder.
Mikel said that the fact that Nigeria had been awarded a penalty earlier in the game did not over rule another one if it was a deserved one.
”A penalty is a penalty, if you give the first one, you can still give a penalty, we have seen it again in the dressing room, it was a clear penalty, so there wasn’t any way the referee couldn’t give the penalty.
”He (referee) looked at the VAR and told me the ball hit the player’s hand,” concludes the Tianji Teda player in the Chinese Super League.
REACTIONS TO OUSTERâ€¦
We have a very young team that still lacks experience. We will come back strongerÂ in four years.Â
I donâ€™t know why the centre referee didnâ€™t give Nigeria penalty for the ball handled in the box by Argentine Marcos Rojo. It was not different from the same handball that earned Portugal a penalty against Iran.
(On use of Bryan Idowu)
When you haveÂ Â players like Lionel (Messi),Â Â Sergio (Aguero),Â Â Higuain, Dybala etc, you need players who can withstand the pressure without necessarily getting booked. We had two penalties in our first two matchesÂ Â and tried to avoid having set pieces against us. Previous goals against Nigeria came from purely set pieces. We didnâ€™t want any foul in our goal area.Â
I hope I can still continue to be around. I have a fantastic team here that can be better with time.Â
*JOHN MIKEL OBI
Â Young team. We did well but was unable to achieve what we wanted.Â In four yearsÂ the team will be better and ready for the world. Iâ€™ve never been part of such a fun squad with such great and sociable players before. Ever since the coach joined us, weâ€™ve had a great time. The players listen to him and want to improve, and thatâ€™s important for Nigerian football.
*WILLIAM TROOST EKONG
Â Hard to describe in words how that felt. It was an emotional rollercoaster. We gave everything against Argentina last night. Iâ€™m grateful and proud to have represented Nigeria and all Nigerians at this World Cup. But most of all I am humbled and thank God for bringing me this far
Â *LEON BALOGUN
Â We showed the world that Nigeria has talented players. We showed that we are a footballing nation, and if the team stays together I hope that we can give an even better account of ourselvesÂ in four yearsâ€™ time.
Â *VICTOR MOSES
Â A Sad, disappointing evening. Tough defeat
Â Itâ€™s a sad day for me, the boys and the country because we went out in a bad manner and we deserved more in the game. Nobody criticised me, itâ€™s a teamwork. We are 23 players fighting for a single thing. Even if I am criticised, Iâ€™ll take it in good faith.