By Izuchukwu Okosi
Former Super Eagles head coach Johannes Bonfrere believes the Nigerian national side must secure vital wins in their first two games in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia against Croatia and Iceland before a last outing with Argentina to stand a good chance of advancing beyond the group stages.
Bonfrere who was assistant coach to fellow Dutchman Clemence Westerhof at the 1994 finals hosted by USA whilst speaking on Brila FM Saturday also reiterated that Gernot Rohr’s team must be wary of two Croatian key players on June 16 (next Saturday) in their Group D opener.
“The game against Croatia is the most important. Maybe Gernot Rohr has to play with five midfielders because they (Croatia) have two of the best midfielders in the world (Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic).
“Iceland is a different team but I believe Nigeria can beat them. It could be an easy game for Argentina that is why Nigeria need to have two good results against Croatia and Iceland,” Bonfrere who in 1996 led Nigeria’s U-23 national side to win the football event of that year’s Olympics in Atalanta, USA, added.
Commenting on the worrying performance of the Eagles in their pre World Cup warm up friendlies which saw them win one, draw two and lose thrice, Bonfrere said:
Its not bad to lose friendlies, what natters is improving upon what you learned from the matches.
And speaking on team discipline, Bonfrere responded:
“When I was the Super Eagles coach, I had to find a balance in how I manage the players.
“Sometimes some of them will arrive the country ahead of time but you hear they gave gone to their families. I understand that after so many months away in Europe, you need to see your family because these boys bring financial gifts.
“As a coach you have to take easy on the players or sometimes be tough at trainings because they have different mental strengths.”
The Eagles will depart Vienna, Austria, on Monday for Russia before their first Group D clash with the Croats.