Big Talking Points As Super Eagles Exit Russia

World Cup 2018 By: Ayodeji Tunde | 28/06/2018

The hopes of over 180 million Nigerians were dashed on Tuesday in St. Petersburg as the Super Eagles’ adventure at the Russia 2018 World Cup was cut short abruptly.

For the Eagles and their fans across the world, it was a case of so close and yet so far.

The morning after the painful exit has been greeted with so many debates, arguments and also counter arguments on what went wrong in that Group D.

Before the kickoff of Nigeria, Argentina match, Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr was emphatic that he would not the playing for a draw even though it could see Nigeria through to the Round of 16.

While it was not wrong to approach the game the way Rohr chose, the consensus is that the Franco-German erred by sticking to that game plan when he was aware how the Croatia Vs Iceland game was going.

One would have expected that Rohr would have substituted his tiring defenders and bring in fresh bloods to hold up play till the final whistle.

First penalty call

Though some argue that the first penalty Nigeria got was soft, it will be wrong to be assertive on that because Nigeria was at the receiving end of a similar call in their first game against Croatia

Some say similar incidents were not given to England and Serbia for holding in the box but when William Troost Ekong held Mandzukic in the box in the group opener, Nigeria was penalized and Luka Modric scored the resultant penalty kick.

Before Nigeria was awarded that penalty, there was even a better call when Iheanacho got a boot to his head while trying to go for a diving header. Surprisingly, Nigeria did not raise eyebrows enough to necessitate the use of VAR and that passed away thankfully for Argentina but to the detriment of Nigeria which in the final analysis haunted them.

Nigeria should've certainly appealed at least, and VAR needs to be more alert to look into it. This was their best penalty shout from all but received the least appeal.


Second penalty call 

The hand-ball was not intentional cos the defender headed it onto himself, in that split second it's clearly not intentional considering the short distance traveled from his head to hand.

Some noted a similar penalty given yesterday for hand ball but in that case, it was a defender who handed it from the head of an attacker, and this time a defender mistakenly heading it onto his own hand.

As rightly put by a former Super Eagles star, Tijani FIFA rules are explicit enough and without any form of sentiments, the penalty call by Nigeria was not valid and the referee was on point not awarding same.

Babaginda said: FIFA rule is very clear on handball situation in the box, very clear. It stipulates that "If the ball touches any part of the body before it hits the hand in the box then it's not a foul or penalty but if it comes off straight and hits the hand it is a penalty". This is FIFA rule on hand ball in the box.

FC Naija

Looking critically at that penalty shout yesterday, the ball came off Rojo's head before touching his hand, it wasn't a penalty. Then, a similar situation occurred against Portugal, which isn't same. The Iranian nodded the ball down straight to an outstretched hand of Cedric who disrupted the ball which is a penalty. That's the fact.

In all, the wounds of this painful exit are still fresh, which means people are still hurting and Odion Ighalo has received some abuse [online troll] because of his glaring misses.

However, the game of football is a collective one.

The Eagles are a young team, one that can continue to grow and mature but we cannot afford to throw out the baby and the bathwater.