President of Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick is confident the Super Eagles can lift themselves up to reach the knockout rounds of the competition despite their 2-0 loss to Croatia in their first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
An unfortunate Oghenekaro Etebo own goal and a penalty from Luka Modric gave Croatia all maximum points from the game.
“We expected to win against Croatia but it did not happen and the whole team, as well as the Federation, have put that behind us and looking ahead with hope to the next two matches,” Pinnick told the Nigerian Football Federation media department.
“I have spoken with the Coach and the players and they have confidence that the job can be done. They feel bad to have lost the first match and are determined to go out there and do what they have to do against Iceland on Friday.
“Losing your first match of a major competition is not an automatic exit ticket. Spain lost their first match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals and still went ahead to win the tournament.
“We have a young team that can achieve so much with the right attitude and invention, and we must now reach deep down for those qualities when we play Iceland in Volgograd.
“At this tournament, world champions Germany have lost their first match; Argentina have been held to a draw; 2010 World Cup winners Spain have been held to a draw and; Brazil could not defeat Switzerland. France even struggled before defeating Australia with a late goal. So much is still possible.”
The Super Eagles have since returned to training in Essentuki ahead of Friday’s encounter at the 45,000-capacity Volgograd Arena.
Croatia currently lead Group D with three points following the win while Argentina and Iceland, who played a 1-1 draw, are joint-second with Nigeria bottom of the log.