By 90Min
June 17, 2018

Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr has defended the way his side played as the Super Eagles lost 2-0 to Croatia in Group D on Saturday.

A penalty from Luka Modric sealed the victory for the Croatians, after Oghenekaro Etebo scored an unfortunate own goal in the first half.

The Nigerians looked lethargic in their play, but manager Rohr defended his side's organisation and tactics in his post-match press conference.

"I think the organisation was okay," he said, per Goal. "We didn't concede from normal play, we conceded from set-pieces.

"Our system was okay. We cannot play with three when there is only one centre-forward, so we played with four because Croatia had three strikers. What we were missing today was to be more professional on set-pieces. Each game is different, we will see for the next game. We know we can play with three centre-backs but today was not that day."

The Nigeria manager has received criticism from some areas of the country's support for playing John Obi Mikel in an offensive midfield role, rather than him sitting deeper, but this is something that Rohr believes in and was keen to justify after the match.

"We play all the time with Mikel in this role of offensive midfield. It's was going well, we qualified and the team built behind them.

"I know he plays before in defensive midfield, in China he plays offensive and defensive. When we don't have the ball, everyone is defensive. Obi Mikel tried his best, it's not easy when you have to play against Modric and Rakitic when you see the clubs where they play and then the clubs where our players play."

With his side needing 'at least four points to qualify', Rohr believes his side can make it out of Group D if they are 'positive' and 'believe'.

OZAN KOSE/GettyImages

"We have the youngest team at the World Cup. Let them learn from this match and do better. We saw Iceland they are a strong team and they can do very well, but we know we can also do better."

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