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World Cup in Russia: Nigeria and Africa teams fall victims of set-pieces

09:36 EAT 18/06/2018
Croatia vs. Nigeria
Of the three matches played, none of the three African sides has scored a goal, and in total, they have conceded four goals

Things have not been good for the African teams in the ongoing 20th edition of World Cup in Russia.

Of the three matches played, none of the three sides has scored a goal, and in total, they have conceded four goals. No draw, no win just defeats.

It is something that has hurt most of the fans especially in the continent. But where is the problem? Well, Goal analyzes the goals conceded so far.

First it was Egypt against South American giants Uruguay; well, the former African giants matched or at least managed to keep the likes of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavanni from finding the back of the net.

A point looked inevitable, owing to goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy's heroics, until late into the match, 89th minute to be precise. The Pharaohs conceded a free-kick that was taken by Carlos Sanchez, and Jose Gimenez rose highest to head home the winner and break Africans hearts.

Then came the match between North African giants Morocco against Iran, a match the former looked destined to grab maximum points. Stats favored the Atlas Lions, and everything was correctly done apart from taking their chances.

With a few seconds left and the match destined to end in a barren draw, again something unthinkable happened! Iran won a free-kick that was cleverly placed into Morocco's danger zone. Substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz, unfortunately, directed the ball into his own net.

Another match was between Croatia and Nigeria, the two sides were meeting for the first time and after that morale boosting 4-1 win against a star studded Argentina in a friendly match, many had hopes in Nigeria. It was not going to be!

The ball was brought in from the right and Mario Mandzukic managed to beat the defenders and headed the ball that took a wicked touch from Oghenekaro Etebo and into the net. In the second half, Croatia won a corner and again, the Super Eagles failed to deal with the ball resulting to a penalty after Troost-Ekong grabbed and impended Mandzukic. Luca Modric made no mistake.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has admitted that the team’s only undoing against Croatia was defending set-pieces and not the tactical approach. The west African side have now failed to win their first games at the quadrennial tourney since the 1998 edition when they won Spain 3-1.

Also, the goals conceded were the third and fourth off corner kick situations in their previous three encounters. "I think the organisation was okay. 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.”

From the analysis of the three goals, it seems the African sides have problems in dealing with the set-pieces. All the four goals have come from that position. In short, Tunisia and Senagal should avoid the same mistake as they prepare for their respective matches.