South Africa 2010 World Cup star Rabiu Afolabi has predicted that Iceland would give the Super Eagles a tough time when both sides clash in their crucial Group D tie at the 2018 World Cup.
“I expect Iceland coming out as a unit, it’s not going to be an easy game for us but with the quality of players we have, we will come out victorious. But everyone has to work for one another, the Icelanders don’t play fancy football, they play like warriors,” Afolabi, who also represented Nigeria at the 2002 World Cup, said.
“Yes, I’m optimistic the team can progress to the next round. I think the coach has learnt from the first game against Croatia. We have good young players who are hungry for success. All we need is to win against Iceland and Argentina to collect six points.”
Afolabi also identified several areas the team are lacking in.
“Creativity is lacking in the squad especially during the last quarter of the game against Croatia. Odion Ighalo is a strong striker who can keep and shield the ball from the opponents but he was lonely against Croatia’s world-class defenders. The Croatian defenders had a numeric advantage over him most times. However, he needs constant support from whoever plays along with him upfront.
“Quality leadership and communication are also missing in our defence; there’s not enough of talking between the goalkeeper and the defenders.”
The ex-Monaco centre-back described the tie against the Croatians as tricky.
“I think the Eagles played a decent match because the first game of every competition is always tricky. I don’t like to criticise the tactics of the coach but I think the 4-2-3-1 formation was good. But some players were used in wrong positions.
“For instance I don’t see Mikel Obi as an offensive midfielder, he has a natural defensive attitude and he’s not a creative player who can create magic in the final third of the opponents. He is a midfield organiser because of his vision and passing ability.