Nigeria collected just their second World Cup win in the last 20 years on Friday night, as an Ahmed Musa brace dispatched everyone’s favorite second team, Iceland. The Super Eagles won exactly 1 game four years ago as well, after not qualifying in 2006 and failing to win any of their group matches in 2002 and 2010. We have to go all the way back to France 1998 and USA 1994 to find Nigeria sides with more than 1 win.
Incidentally, Ahmed Musa has now scored the last four goals Nigeria have managed on the world’s biggest stage, his two yesterday adding to the two against Argentina in 2014, sandwiching two 2-0 defeats, to France and Croatia.
Musa may have been the one whose name went up in lights, with two strikes of utmost quality, but plaudits were plentiful for the two Chelsea players involved as well, as they took turns in providing the assists.
Victor Moses, whose revitalized career may be Antonio Conte’s greatest personal impact at Chelsea, was deployed in his now regular right wing-back role, while Chelsea loanee Kenneth Omeruo, recently seen in the Turkish SuperLig, started a competitive game for the first time since November 2016 on the left side of the back three. Gernot Rohr rang the changes from the first game, including a more familiar role for captain Mikel John Obi as well.
“We changed our strategy and organisation, playing 3-5-2 with Victor Moses playing in the place where he plays at Chelsea and the captain came back to the position that he plays in China and used to play at Chelsea before.
”I think it worked out well. They did this for the country, for the team. It was not easy to convince them but in the end they did it well. It gave us more space and the speed proved decisive for us.”
-Gernot Rohr; source: Reuters via ESPN
After a subpar first half, it was a typical Moses run that created the chance for Musa’s first goal, while a long clearance from Omeruo found the speedy striker for his second. The only knock against Omeruo’s otherwise solid day was his involvement in giving away the penalty kick, which Sigurdsson missed.
The win means that Nigeria only need a draw against Argentina on Tuesday to advance to the knockout round (barring a big win for Iceland over Crotia to make the up the goal difference). Giving the Albiceleste’s massive crisis and Nigeria’s talent level, we could certainly see the Super Eagles take flight into the Round of 16.