Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has backtracked on his prediction that Nigeria would qualify out of their group along with Argentina at the 2018 World Cup.
The Portuguese, who is on punditry work on the Russia tournament, initially tipped the West Africans to emerge from a difficult group that also has Croatia and Iceland.
But after watching them succumb to a 2-0 defeat to Croatia, Mourinho was left particularly disappointed by Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr’s decision to play his former Chelsea protégé John Obi Mikel as a number 10 instead of his usual holding midfield role.
“I think I will lose Nigeria [from earlier prediction] – not because they lost the match but especially because of the way that they lost, I didn’t like at all.
“When I look into the paper, I like many of the players, the names – I thought Nigeria’s a typically strong African country but I was disappointed,” he explained to RT.
Mourinho continued: “When I see a player like John Obi Mikel playing as No. 10, it’s impossible for a team to be good with Mikel playing there.
“I think Nigeria lost a good No. 6 to get a bad No. 10 and he gives no dynamics to the team playing in that position
Revising his notes on the teams to advance from Group D, Mourinho clarified: “I believe Croatia with three points is in great position to qualify.”
Nigeria next face Iceland on Friday.