Lagerbäck upbeat after ‘peaceful’ week

Lars Lagerbäck is confident that his Nigerian team can get their World Cup back on track after the defeat to Argentina when they meet Greece in Bloemfontein on Thursday.

The Swede said on Wednesday that the Super Eagles had been working on sharpening their cutting edge ahead of their must-win clash against the Euro 2004 champs.

Nigeria’s 1-0 opening loss to Group B favourites Argentina extended a miserable run in World Cup finals to six matches without a win – including five defeats – but the former Sweden coach stayed positive ahead of Thursday’s match.

“Despite the loss to Argentina we had a good week,” he told reporters.

“The players have a really good attitude. Everything is OK in the camp so I’m really looking forward to the game.”

“What we have given priority to in training in the days after the Argentina game is to try to be a little bit sharper in the attacking part of the game,” Lagerbäck said.

He added that the team had worked on its defending of corners after Argentina’s Gabriel Heinze headed the winner from the set-piece.

Nigeria and Euro 2004 winners Greece, who went down 2-0 to South Korea, are rooted at the bottom of the group and a defeat for either would almost certainly spell the end of their World Cup dreams.

But Lagerbäck said the pressure to win the game at Bloemfontein’s Free State stadium would help focus minds.

“I’m really looking forward to it even as it is… probably a must win to go through to the second round. I see it as a positive challenge and I think having talked to the players they look upon it the same,” he said.

Lagerbäck said Nigeria had watched Greece and were not anticipating any


“I think we know them very well and basically it’s about the same team, the way they are playing so it’s not a big difference,” he said, referring to how Greece had played over recent years.

Forward Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi said the players were enjoying being part of history at Africa’s first World Cup.

“I think there is a lot of motivation in the team and everyone’s staying focused and there’s a lot of professionalism in the team so I think everything’s going to work out fine,” he said.

Lagerbäck said the team had benefited from holding some training sessions out of the spotlight.

“It’s always good, in my opinion that we can have a bit of calm and peace around the training sessions otherwise if you have a lot of people around it disturbs focus and concentration,” he said.

Nigeria’s last victory at the World Cup was back in 1998 when they beat Bulgaria 1-0 in France.

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.