Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup hopes came to a painful end on Tuesday night following their 2-1 loss to Argentina. There were players that duly impressed at the Mundial, albeit the team’s premature exit from the group stage. With barely seven minutes left on the clock and the score at 1-1, the Super Eagles were heading towards a round of 16 clash with France.
Argentina defender, Marcos Rojo, found himself inside the box and finished with precision Odion Ighalo lacked a few minutes earlier, sending the Albiceleste into the knockout stages. Ighalo himself has been the target of criticism after the game, but which of his team-mates covered themselves with glory in Russia?
1. John Mikel Obi
Captain fantastic. Led bravely from the middle. Although he got a bit of flak against Croatia playing as a 10, the Tianjin TEDA midfielder rolled back the years in the last two games, after he was deployed as a deep-lying playmaker. He probably has one major tournament left for him, Mikel Obi will surely go down as one of our favourite Nigerian footballers ever.
2. Oghenekaro Etebo
From the get-go, Etebo’s industry, energy and tenacity shone. Even after he conceded an own goal in the first fixture, the new Stoke City boy made the best XI of the World Cup’s opening round. Surely done enough to cement his place as a regular in the team.
3. Ahmed Musa
The Leicester City winger is officially Nigeria’s go-to man for World Cup goals. Musa scored twice in 2014 and 2018. No Super Eagles player dead or alive has more. The 25-year-old was a constant thorn in the flesh of opposition with pace and power, whenever he was picked by Gernot Rohr and his finishing was a class apart.
4. Wilfred Ndidi
Even though he had fitness issues ahead of the tournament, there was never a doubt Ndidi would make the squad. And it was not hard to see why. An expert midfield patrol agent, the Leicester City man was tasked with putting out fires and did his job excellently.