The Super Eagles on Wednesday lost 1-0 to the Czech Republic in their friendly match ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup in Austria.
Tomas Kalas’ 24th minute strike from close range
made the Central Europeans, who were whitewashed
by Australia 4-0 in their friendly fixture on Saturday,
winners this time round.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr made a few changes to the
starting lineup (4-2-3-1) in the team’s 2-1 loss to
England in London on Saturday.
The German coach started Francis Uzoho in goal
while Shehu Abdullahi, William Troost-Ekong,
Leon Balogun and Brian Idowu were in the defence.
Captain Mikel Obi, John Ogu, who replaced Ogenyi Onazi,
and Wilfred Ndidi, who returned to the lineup after
missing the last two matches due to injury,
were in the midfield. China-based striker Odion Ighalo,
Chelsea wing-back Victor Moses and
Alex Iwobi were in the attack.
Nigeria started the better of the two sides as they
settled against Czech but the Europeans, who will
not be in Russia for the World Cup, grew into the
game and battled the Eagles for the control of the
midfield. Like it was against England,
the Eagles struggled in the first half until
they changed formation (3-5-2) after the break.
The Eagles’ first chance came in the sixth minute
when Moses’ free-kick was gathered by the
Czech goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik following a foul on Mikel.
Czech had their chance in the 18th minute when
Uzoho made a save from a shot by a Husbauer Josef.
The Czechs kept piling pressure on the Nigerian
defence and got their goal after the Eagles failed to
deal with a set-piece and Kalas scored from a rebound
caused by a block made by Uzoho.
The Eagles responded with Ighalo and Ndidi denied by
fine saves from Vaclik. The Euro ’96 runners-up should
have doubled their lead but Jugas Jakub fired over
the bar with Uzoho left stranded.
Nigeria had a few chances towards the end of the first
half but could not beat Vaclik, who saved efforts from
Ighalo and Moses.
The match was halted for 10 minutes in the second
half after a thunderstorm followed showers of rain.
But Nigeria failed to break their opponents’ defence in
a dominant second half performance as they poured
forward in search of the equaliser.
Rohr brought on Ahmed Musa for Moses while
Tyronne Ebuehi replaced Abdullahi. Kelechi Iheanacho
replaced Mikel and Simeon Nwankwo came on for Ighalo.
Nigeria lost 1-0 to Poland in Wroclaw on March 23 and
fell 2-0 to Serbia in London four days later.
They played 1-1 against DR Congo in Port Harcourt.
Nigeria will face Argentina, Croatia and Iceland in
Group D in Russia, with their World Cup opener
against Croatia in Kaliningrad on June 16.