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Lawal: Ref Right Not To Give Super Eagles Second Penalty, African Teams Must Keep Concentration

Lawal: Ref Right Not To Give Super Eagles Second Penalty, African Teams Must Keep Concentration

By Hanifat Mustapha:

Former Super Eagles midfielder Garba Lawal has rejected claims that referee Cuneyt Cakir had a hand in the team’s elimination from the Russia 2018 World Cup.


The Nigerian side fell 2-1 to Argentina on Tuesday and ended in third place in Group D with three points.

Many Nigerians felt the Turkish official favoured Argentina, especially after refusing to give a penalty for Marcos Rojo’s handball after Video Assistant Referee review.

Zenith Ziva

“The referee was fair enough,” Lawal, who featured for the Super Eagles at the 1998 World Cup in France, told Completesportsnigeria.com on Wednesday.

“When the incident happened, he wasn’t sure so he went to check the VAR before making any decision. On getting there he saw that the ball touched Rojo’s head before hitting his hands.

“If the ball had touched his hand alone it’s a penalty. But at the end of the day, the ball dropped but Ighalo couldn’t convert his chance, instead he missed the ball. We should not criticise the referee but the players who missed good opportunities.”

Lawal is however mostly satisfied with the Super Eagles performance in Russia and advised that players should be retained.

“If I must say, the squad is still okay,” the for Roda midfielder told CSN. “The coach can make changes if he wants to and another coach might be appointed by the NFF and will get new players into the squad. All a coach wants in the team is success.

“Yesterday’s match should have ended 1-1. At that moment someone should have geared the players to strive till the end but the team lost concentration and in the 80th minute and Argentina utilized their chances.

“To me both the coach and players are involved in this. Coaches make players and players make coaches. There are some situations that the coach seeks opinion of the players like the Argentines did before the match yesterday. Going into the second half, Messi was the one talking to the players on the pitch. Sometimes, the coach will give instructions and the players won’t abide by it.

“A coach must have a plan before the game and on getting to the pitch, things will change. Once the opponent scores, they will destabilise your tactical game plan but a leader must keep encouraging the players on the pitch.

“I believe African teams will have to go back and work on our loss of concentration during games. African teams need to adjust themselves and be focused in terms of set pieces and attack if they want to go far in global championships.”

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  • khalil 3 years ago

    When I said the same thing on Nairaland forum I got banned for saying the obvious.

    One thing I have seen about some Nigerians is some people would rather be emotional than being sensible.

    The penalty Nigeria got to me was rather soft one and Rojo’s ball to hand was clearly not a penalty.

  • I beg to disagree with u on this mr. Lawal, that was 100% penalty, even more obvious than the one the ref. Gave, me think the ref. Just decide not to giv. As it will be too harsh to award 2 penalty that are not injury worry in a single match, i will advice u watch iran penalty equalizer against portugal, even that was not as obvious as this, and another reason i think the ref. Didnt give the penalty might be bcos its ball advantage to our useless ighalo, as its even in position than awarding penalty.

  • Bobo Colorado Springs 3 years ago

    Mr Lawal i disagree with you. You are spot on Tokunbo L. It doesn’t matter if the ball touch your head, ass, chest or nose before touching your already stretched out hand, is a penalty. Wait until it happen to Nigeria or any other African team, you will see the ref award that. It was a penalty period, awarding another penalty will too harsh for Argentina. They just want Argentina to advance because of Messi.

  • It is time for an inquest into Nigeria’s failed world cup participation.

    The simple question is: what happened?

    The following points needs to be addressed

    – world cup squad selection.

    – match day squad selections.

    – Inability to convert lessons captured (from friendly matches) to lesson learnt.

    – wisdom of going to a present world cup with an extremely young squad.

    – is hiring a foreign coach really the way forward for Nigeria?

    – has looking for talents predominantly among foreign born Nigerians worked?

    – does the NPFL offer more than we credit it for? Should we tap into more domestic talents?

    I think NFF should chart a new course for Nigeria’s football and start afresh.

    • We didn’t fail..Admittedly,there were some constraints..but we didn’t fail..We Nigerians should stop hoping for things that we don’t deserve..I tire for nigerian mentality

      • Hi Nkemjikapj,

        I apologise if the word “failed” offended you.

        A country the of Nigeria is expected minimally to reach the second round of the world cup – indeed Amaju Pinnick’s NFF had high hopes for this tournament hence his insistent on hiring a foreign coach and successfully arranging Grade ‘A’ friendlies.

        Despite these, in this forum and in real life, many Nigerian fans predicted a poor (please don’t allow my use of the word “poor” disconcert you) outing for the Super Eagles.

        Many remained optimistic but the doubters were proved right at the end of the day.

        Trust me, I know the players did their very best in the last 2 matches however, failure to progress beyond the group stages can only be described as ‘failure’ within this context.

        No offence intended.



    • Excellent observation . The Nigerian team and NFF needs a complete overhaul. How can a coach take a group of very average strikers to a crucial competition like the World Cup? If you have to use home based players, then do . Not those clowns like Ighalo

  • This one that call himself technical member even the group that blame d players and the coach. If it is easy then fire the man that is what u even want judging by your action all this while then get d job and let see how you will fare. We have seen team conceded with d last minute of the game self.

  • This one that call himself technical member even the group that blame d players and the coach. I am not surprise at all cos was it not d same you that went publicly that the coach didn’t carry u along before naming the squad. We have seen team conceded with d last minute of the game self.

  • Rojo jumped on his own, no body contested with him. Ighalo’s body didn’t touch his. He jumped using both hand and head to touch down ball on his own. Assuming d refree claim that Ighalo lost after given ball advantage, I won’t complain.  But for him to go for the video, I reserve my comment…[email protected] Lawal and Mr Khalil, what about the leg raised on iheanacho (above shoulder) that hit d head? What do we call that too?

  • Good or Bad, Coach Rohr stays. No more going back to drawing board. Mikel Obi, you’ve done us well. I think, it’s time you hang your boot for Super Eagles and let younger ones comes in. Amaju Pinnick take note!