FT World Cup 2018: The Super Eagles of Nigeria find their mojo against Iceland
It is official, the Super Eagles are flying again. After a lifeless start to their FIFA World Cup campaign in Russia where they lost 2-0 to Croatia, Nigeria bounced back with a 2-0 victory of their own over the “fairytale team” Iceland. After going toe to toe with Lionel Messi’s Argentina in a 1-1 stalemate, the Icelanders surely headed into this encounter brimming with confidence to achieve yet another major upset on the biggest stages of them all, but it was not to be. The vengeful West African boys had other plans, in Ahmed Musa’s handwriting.
The Nigeria gaffer, Gernot Rohr, made three changes to the team that started against Croatia. He replaced forwards, Alex Iwobi and Odion Ighalo with Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho, also opting for Omeruo in place of Abdullahi Shehu at the back. These changes meant he switched formation from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-5-2 that provided more defensive cover in the form of two wing backs running up and down the wings, in Moses and Idowu. A position which Victor Moses has become accustomed to at Chelsea.
The first forty-five minutes were really nothing out of the ordinary, a plain Nigerian side that seemed to have a stable defense but no plan going forward. The Icelanders actually created fewer but more threatening chances, forcing a save from Uzoho from a free-kick early in the match. After the restart, the complexion of the match changed. Whatever Rohr said to the Super Eagles at halftime worked. Ahmed Musa pulled off a great technique to control a Victor Moses half-cross from the wing before smashing the ball into the net with the same foot, sending 180 million Nigerians and the whole of Africa into ecstasy. Twenty-five minutes later, Musa was at it again, Omeruo sent him through with a clearance that could have been mistaken for a pass, dribbling past one defender and according to Twitter fans, “made the goalkeeper lie in green pastures” and slammed the ball into the top corner. The CSKA Moscow man officially claimed the G.O.A.T (Greatest of all Time) accolade in the eyes of many Nigerians. Iceland had a chance to pull one goal back after being awarded a penalty in the 83rd minute which Gylfi Sigurdsson sent over the crossbar.
After Lionel Messi and Argentina fell to a 3-0 at the hands of Luka Modric’s Croatia, it’s now all to play for in Group D. None of the teams have been knocked out yet, mathematically. Croatia sits on the top with a maximum of six points and a guaranteed round of 16 place but Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland will be vying for that second spot. The Super Eagles currently sit second with 3 points while the other two are both on a single point.
Nigeria will play Argentina on the 26th of June in what promises to be a fiery contest where everything will be on the line.