Former captains of Nigeria and Cote D Ivoire national teams, Austin Okocha and Didier Drogba have attributed the Super Eagles’ early exit at the 2018 World Cup to inexperience and bad officiating.
The Eagles lost to Argentina 2-1 in their last group match on Tuesday to exit the tournament.
It was the fifth time the Nigeria team was losing to Argentina at the World Cup.
Okocha, who was a guest analyst on Supersport during the game, said the Eagles panicked in the first half and came back in the second half of the match but failed to convert their chances before the Argentines scored the winner.
The former Bolton Wanderers’ captain said, “(Francis) Uzoho kept us in the game with the saves he made in the second half. We panicked in the first half but the players fought back in the second.
“It was going to be tough for us and it lived up to that and it went to the last three minutes, but I think we have to look at the bigger picture. For most of these players it was the first time.
“The penalty was a gift from Mascherano but then I thought we started the second half better. We got ourselves in better places. It was a fantastic penalty from Moses but I think we should have put Argentina under more pressure.
“There was a foul on (Kelechi) Iheanacho in the first half but it was not awarded because nobody appealed to the referee. They didn’t put the referee under pressure. The defender raised his foot too high to clear the ball and hit Iheanacho on the head. For the second one, it was unfortunate that the referee didn’t award it despite consulting the VAR and Rojo got away with that one.”
Odion Ighalo failed to convert some chances in the match and the ChangchungYatai striker extended his goal drought to eight games for the Eagles. The 29-year-old has scored just four goals in 21 games for the Eagles.
Also, Drogba has said bad officiating led to Nigeria’s ouster from the 2018 World Cup.
Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir failed to award a penalty to the Eagles after Rojo had headed the ball onto his hand in the penalty area under a challenge from Odion Ighalo.
The referee consulted VAR after the insistence of Eagles captain Mikel Obi but ruled that the defender committed no wrong in the act.
Former Chelsea striker Drogba, who was a guest analyst on BBC One, said the referee favoured Argentina unjustly with the decision not to award the second penalty.
He said, “I think it’s a bad decision from the referee not to give Nigeria a second penalty. It’s the defender’s mistake – he didn’t read the ball well. It’s difficult to give the penalty because it would take Argentina out of the competition.”