The president of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, has declared that despite the 2-0 loss to Croatia in their first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the Super Eagles have the wherewithal to lift themselves up.
Croatia made good from set-pieces in Kaliningrad on Saturday, winning 2-0 to top Group D ahead of Argentina and Iceland, who finished 1-1 and have one point each.
In a statement made available to TheCable by Ademola Olajire, NFF spokesperson on Monday, Pinnick said the Eagles can still reach the knockout rounds of the competition.
“We expected to win against Croatia but it did not happen and the whole team, as well as the Federation, have put that behind us and looking ahead with hope to the next two matches,” the statement read.
“I have spoken with the coach and the players and they have confidence that the job can be done. They feel bad to have lost the first match and are determined to go out there and do what they have to do against Iceland on Friday.”
Pinnick stated further that in football, a lot is possible if the heart is there to go out and conquer.
“Losing your first match of a major competition is not an automatic exit ticket,” Pinnick said.
“Spain lost their first match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals and still went ahead to win the tournament. We have a young team that can achieve so much with the right attitude and invention, and we must now reach deep down for those qualities when we play Iceland in Volgograd.”
Pinnick also appealed to Nigerians back home to continue to support the young team with kind words and prayers.
“The Federal Government through the minister of youth and sports (Solomon Dalung), who is here in Russia supporting the team and giving them words of encouragement, has appealed to Nigerians to keep supporting the team,” he said.
“The NFF is also appealing to them to continue to encourage the team with kind words and prayers. At this tournament, world champions West Germany have lost their first match; Argentina has been held to a draw; 2010 World Cup winners Spain have been held to a draw and; Brazil could not defeat Switzerland. France even struggled before defeating Australia with a late goal. So much is still possible.”
The Super Eagles returned to their team base camp in Essentuki on Sunday, and have commenced training for Friday’s encounter at the 45,000 capacity Volgograd.