Nigeria Lose to England in Pre-World Cup Friendly
Nigeria’s 2018 FIFA World Cup preparations suffered a blow as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat to England at jam-packed Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday.
First half goals from Gary Cahill at the seventh minute and Harry Kane after 39th minute sealed the victory for the Three Lions against Super Eagles who reduced the deficit though Alex Iwobi on the 47th minute after Odion Ighalo’s effort came off the post.
It was Super Eagles goalkeeper Uzoho Francis who made the first real save of the game, when he saved a shot by Jesse Lingard following Ashley Young’s cross.
But the goalie could do nothing about Cahill’s opener as the defender, making his first appearance for England since October, rose high to connect Kieran Tripper’s corner with a beautiful header into the back of the net.
Uzoho made a few good saves to keep the score down to just one and was definitely the busier of the two goalkeepers on the night.
Nigeria almost got the leveller 26th minute into the match but Odion Ighalo could not get to a twisting pass before 24- year old Jordan Pickford.
Harry Kane doubled the lead after the Eagles carelessly lost possession giving the Tottenham Hotspur’s danger man space on the edge of the box who beat Uzoho with a fiercely-struck low drive that the Nigerian goalkeeper should have done better with.
Super Eagles responded to that setback by making four substitutions at half-time, with those changes paying immediate dividends as Nigeria reduced the deficit within two minutes of the restart.
Alex Iwobi who was tormenting their host’s wing backs made a cool finish after Odion Ighalo had struck the upright for a consolation.
From that point Eagles continued to press for an equaliser as captain John Obi Mikel had a crack at goal 20 minutes before time but Pickford was on hand to keep out the midfielder’s long range strike.
The Three Lions made a couple of changes of their own in the last quarter of an hour but their effect was that they slowed the tempo of the match.
Despite that Eagles continued to push forward and nearly found an equalizer in the last five minutes of the game with Mikel again failing to connect a cross from the edge of the box.
Speaking after the loss, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, said that his team will take the next two weeks before the World Cup to focus, as there are still a lot of work to do.
“This game shows we still have a lot of work to do to be ready for the World Cup.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“We have to make the best use of the two weeks left before our first game in Russia. It’s time to focus. No distractions,”[/perfectpullquote]
So far Nigeria has now played four international friendlies, recording a slim victory over Poland in Wrowclaw, a draw against DR Congo and two losses against Serbia and England.
They will next face the Czech Republic in their last warm-up game in Austria as the coach also names his final 23-man squad next week.
Nigeria, grouped in Group D alongside Croatia, Argentina and Iceland, begins their World Cup campaign against Croatia on June 16th, 2018.