Austin “Jayjay” Okocha has put the blame on Gernot Rohr for the poor tactical approach in Super Eagles’ 2-0 defeat in the hands of the Croats in their Group D opening game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
A regretable own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and a spot-kick from Luka Modric extended Nigeria’s winless streak in opening World Cup match.
The former Super Eagles captain also faulted the team’s poor defending which caused the two goals conceded in each half.
“It was a decent first half but maturity was the edge the Croatian team had over the Nigerian team,” Okocha said on SuperSport, where he was a guest analyst, after the game.
“The Super Eagles got done by the movements of the Croatian team in their box. The Super Eagles midfielders were not doing their best both in defending and in the attack.
“Eagles didn’t get the best out of Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses because the manager was trying to accommodate Mikel Obi in the team.
“The manager didn’t earn his money today. We were not a threat in the first half and I was expecting him to play three at the back, five players in the midfield and two strikers to the team a chance to get back into the game.
“It is sad because I know we can do better than this. Of course, there is still hope but we have to do it the hard way now.
“These (Croatians) are world class players who know how to win by exploiting little details.”
Okocha who starred for Nigeria in three FIFA World Cups in 1994, 1998 and 2002 also blamed Rohr for deploying Mikel in the creative role.
“We didn’t have a creative player today,” Okocha. “Mikel has been a good servant to the national team. His best position is playing in front of the defense. We saw what he did playing for Chelsea where he had a glorious career.
“The most creative player in that team is Alex Iwobi but he was played on the flanks. He (Iwobi) can play on the flanks at Arsenal because they had better players in that role like Mesut Ozil.
“The reason why we lost was that we played our best players out of their positions.
“Playing Mikel in that position didn’t help Moses and Iwobi on the flanks.”