Festus Abu, Saint Petersburg
Brian Idowu says Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is not solely to blame for the Super Eagles’ early from the 2018 World Cup in Russia after their defeat by Argentina.
Nigeria blew the chance to secure a place in Round of 16 after their tactical shortcomings in the closing minutes of the encounter at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday handed Marcos Rojo a chance to break the 1-1 deadlock, which was enough for the Eagles to progress, in the 86th minute to send Argentina through.
Rohr has been subjected to heavy criticism for his failure to respond when Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli threw in attacking players in a last-ditch attempt to win the clash.
Saint Petersburg-born Idowu, who endured a torrid time against superstar Lionel Messi in the match, admitted the Eagles made a series of mistakes in the fixture, but said Rohr shouldn’t shoulder the blame alone.
“Our failure to qualify for the next round was not as a result of poor tactics,” the 26-year-old, who made his international debut in the 4-2 defeat of Argentina in a pre-World Cup friendly match in Krasnodar in November, told our correspondent at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.
“The coach is good; he did his best for us to win the match but we made some mistakes in the dying minutes when we could have left the pitch with a draw.
“It’s painful but it’s no shame losing to Argentina because they are a big team, but we could have beaten them here.”
The versatile Amkar Perm defender said the team had learnt some lessons from the defeat, saying they would focus on qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Idowu said, “The experience I have gathered playing in the World Cup will help me in my career. I have learnt a lot just like my colleagues.
“We have put the World Cup disappointment behind us and focused on qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I will play in the remaining qualifying matches and in the tournament if the coach invites me.
“Though I was born in Russia, Nigeria is my country and I’m happy with the opportunity to represent Nigeria at the World Cup in the country where I was born.”
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