Former Nigerian captain Austin Okocha has attributed the Super Eagles’ early exit at the 2018 World Cup to inexperience.
The Eagles lost to Argentina 2-1 in their last group match on Tuesday to exit the tournament.A lack-lustre Argentina team advanced to the knockout stages after Lionel Messi and Marcos Rojo scored either side of a Victor Moses’ converted spot kick.
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.