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Zola Blames ‘Flat’ Midfield, Troost-Ekong For Nigeria Defeat, Wants Mikel Dropped

Zola Blames ‘Flat’ Midfield, Troost-Ekong For Nigeria Defeat, Wants Mikel Dropped

By Johnny Edward:

​Former Italy forward Gianfranco Zola pointed at Nigeria’s flat midfield for their 2-0 defeat to Croatia in their opening group game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.

An own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo in the first half and a second-half penalty from Luka Modric sealed the win for Croatia who Zola admits were not at their best during the encounter.

The victory means Croatia lead Group D on three points while Argentina and Iceland are joint-second on a point each following their 1-1 draw earlier on Saturday. Nigeria remain rock bottom following the defeat to the Vatreni.
“They (Croatia) won the game due to the mistakes of the Nigerian team,” the Chelsea legend said on SuperSport where he was a guest analyst for the match.

“Those players (in the Croatian team) play for top clubs and they know how to make the best use of situations (set-pieces) like that. Nigeria were the better side in the first half in my own opinion to be fair, because I expected more from the Croatian team due to the quality in the team.”

The former Napoli and Parma forward also advised coach Gernot Rohr to drop Mikel Obi for a player who has more energy to support the team’s ‘flat’ midfield.

“The midfield was flat there was no creativity and Mikel didn’t do much to help the team. He (Mikel) should leave for a player with more energy to help out. Considering the calibre of players they (Croatia) have,” Zola, who was in the Italy team that defeated Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup, added.

“Defensively they did not do well and they allowed the Croatians dominate in key areas which didn’t help their play.”

Zola also slammed William Troost-Ekong for grappling with Mario Manzukic in the box. He said: “You don’t do such at this level of football. That was poor defending from him (Troost-Ekong) which cost his teama chance to fight back at 2-0 down.”

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  • Raphael 3 years ago

    Pathetic formation from the carpenter coach, that made our team look ordinary. Siasia would hv done better here, since we don’t appreciate our own, we will continue going in circles.

    • Lucky Ukhun 3 years ago

      Siasia handled the Super Eagles before, remember? And we couldn’t even qualify for the Nations’ Cup under him. It’s not a question of Siasia or Gernot Rohr. We are not just good enough. This is the best we can offer, no matter the coach. We don’t have top class players who are playing for top clubs in Europe. I was at the stadium in Austria to watch their friendly game. I was so ashamed of the team. They are not skilfull. They are always jittery even off the ball. I think this team played it’s best game against Argentina last year.

      • Great and thanks. This Nigerian side lacks the ingredients of a dynamic team. They lack required skills, agility, speed, and physique. Above all they lack the maturity to play at this stage in terms of age and mentality.

        And while we pray and wait for an improved and better outing against Argentina and Iceland, one cannot loose sight of the weakness of the team.  

    • Louis 3 years ago

      It will be a very stupid circle. All that glitters ain’t gold. Rohr  tried to qualify us but his stubbornness causes us the win. How can he play a formation he tried in friendly match and didn’t work, and still has the guts to try it again in the main finals. Very stupid. 

  • Sunnyb 3 years ago

    Thanks great Zola, exactly what said, some clowns here talking nonsense. Mikel is too old too slow, deplore Iwobi as our playmaker, play Ighalo and simy in the attack,or  Iheanacho and simmy. Because we don’t have enough strikers or wingers, Joel and Onazi are just space wasters. What a shame. Memories of 2010 again.

  • Charles joshua 3 years ago

    Lets stop clamouring for a local coach,it wasnt as if the croatians played better than us,we cost our own problem an own goal nd a cheeky penalty due to indisciplined nd experience cost us,despise the own goal by etebo he had a nice game all together.The coache has to deploy new formation that breeds more of an offensive than defensive tactics he his using,i feel mikel obi is too slow in d midfield especially as a creative midfielder,in he was indecisive.ighalo for me has is not good as a lone striker he last scored for the super eagles last year,dont knw why the coach still insist on using him.lets try iwobi as our creative midfieldr then play iheanacho nd ighalo as our attackers then we will be a threat in attack,but for now that attack is nothing to rite home about

  • Geeboy 3 years ago

    Mikel was used out of position… He should be dropped deeper in midfield and Etebo ahead of him. He’ll have opportunity to play his game controlling the game

  • Louis 3 years ago

    Rohr  tried to qualify us but his stubbornness cost us the win. How can he play a formation he tried in friendly match and didn’t work, and still has the guts to try it again in the main finals. Very stupid. If he likes, he shouldn’t opt in for 3-4-1-2 (3-5-2).
    We will come home and he will loses his job. No $30,000  p/m

  • JOSEPH 3 years ago

    @Raphael GOD bless you, people hate the truth, whether siasia qualified us or not, he is still our best coach, our no 1 prob is the nff a siasia on a very good day will nt even take mikel to the world cup but our nff might take it up against him, sia1 is the best.

    • Lucky Ukhun 3 years ago

      Being a good coach entails several attributes. A good soccer tactician who is unable to manage his players in peace cannot get the desired results. Siasia is a good soccer tactician, but he is very poor in human management. That’s why when he was in charge of the super eagles, the team was completely torn apart with endless controversies with his players. It’s something that is very common with the 1994 Super Eagles squad who are now coaches. Siasia, Keshi, Eguavoen, Oliseh. All through the period these coaches handled the national team, there was never peace in camp. They have too much ego. It was the same problem we had with them as players. The Super eagles camp then was all about Mafia and that limited that very good 1994 squad that had the potential of getting to at least the semi finals of USA“94. So the bottom-line is no matter how good you are as a coach, if you can’t manage your players in peace, then obviously such a coach can’t succeed.

      • Austin 3 years ago

        Spot on, bro. Siasia can become the best, but only when he has been able to tidy his human management issue. Argentina probably would have won the World Cup in 2014 against Germany but unfortunately, their coach messed up his chance by dropping their best attackers. A good coach must learn that his pride lies in winning tournaments and not forcing respect from his players. In fact, his success is what would bring respect from the players rather than forcefully.

  • Sunnyb 3 years ago

    Siasia is the best coach in Naija period, he knows how to select right players, but NFA or NFF whatever, will never allow the man to succeed, imagined Rohr went to World Cup with one slow old  player maker.played Ighalo, Mikel and Shehu for almost ninety minutes. What a shame 

  • Is there any player on that competition that has nigeria interest at heart all they want is go to d world cup. play beautifully advertice themselve to d world and their family.

  • Joseph ojo 3 years ago

    how is siasia d best when he couldn’t qualify the super eagles for common nations cup and had d team riddled with controversies? rohr tried but I think he is just stubborn. how can ebuehi be on the bench? Mikel has not been an attacking midfielder since 2006.Why play him there on the biggest stage when you have a promising iwobi. Moses also is too individualistic and makes foolish decisions. falling all over the place

    • I am calling from Switzerland, representing 2 nations Swiss/Nig. My dear let’s stop supporting Rohr… the western ppl know exactly from the start and to finish of this game. Do you think there is no game plan over the entire World Cup ? Rohr deliberately wanted us loose against Croatia because he knows Nigeria is a resilient nation full of talents and ambition and beat Croatia, Iceland and pose a big treat to the Argentina team. Mikel played well But was played out of position. Nigeria do not play defensive football alone  we play both attacking and defensive football. Iwobi was also played in a wrong position. Moses play better in the left wing. The benfica guy Ibuehi was benched who could have pose an attacking treat to the Croatia while Abdullahi played in his stead. Etebo who is very good as an attacking midfield was played as defensive midfield which caused us heavily. He wanted to redeem that but that was too late even I still feel he a very good player. 
      In summary  , let them play their natural position. Play 3-5-2 or 4-3-3 / 4-4-2 … we need two strikers upward and Etebo as an attacking midfield. We must be compacted and not allow give too gap to each other. Close the space and give them no chance to our box at home since we can not defend well in set pieces. 

  • Franklin 3 years ago

    I think we have in a one loud voice in this site agreed that rohr might be sabotaging this team and keeping in pretence that this is a young. Even a novice in football knew that we needed 2 change something yesterday but our stubborn coach couldn’t. My younger sister who doesn’t know anything about football was screaming for our coach 2 make quality changes and at d right time. Later they will say we will correct our mistakes but Same thing will still happen.

  • joseph 3 years ago

    @lucky ukhun you’ve spoken really,well but dnt compare sia1 with the likes of keshi,eguaveon or prob oliseh,he is far better than them,the only person I can compare him with is amodu shuaibu,I am talking abt myself, fine ego prob if this young players cant submit to their coach, definitely they have the backing of the nff, thats why most of them are nt playing for bigger clubs, sia1 is the best, my broda I know what I am saying, nff knows, the truth is that,in that house they are just too greedy, sincerely they are the ones killing our football, we might still qualify.

    • Lucky Ukhun 3 years ago

      I pray too that we qualify because we have never had this kind of good preparation for any world cup edition.

  • Jibril fahd 3 years ago

    I pray we should qualify for this world cup, we have to work on our midfield, and also work on our top nine, we don’t have top nine

  • The truth is until we stop using mikel as our play maker Nigeria will never grow..