Nigeria optimistic about World Cup despite poor warm-up

Lagos, June 8 (IANS) In spite of recent poor performances in international friendlies against England and the Czech Republic, Nigeria are confident of a rebound heading into the 2018 FIFA World Cup, an official has said.

Solomon Dalung, Nigeria’s Minister for Youth and Sports, told reporters here on Thursday that the friendlies were played with a lot of strategic planning in mind, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The ultimate performance is on the World Cup and if in the course of playing friendlies we incapacitate our great potential then the essence of going to the World Cup is defeated,” he said.

Following the below-par performances of the Super Eagles, many Nigerian football fans have questioned the commitment of the team heading to Russia.

Dalung told reporters that despite the doubts being expressed by the football fans in the country, the team will likely spring a few surprises.

“During the qualifiers for the World Cup, a lot of people didn’t believe that the Super Eagles would qualify for the event because of the way they started, but at the end we qualified for the competition with a match left to play in the qualifiers, so we should hope for the best from the team and give them our support,” he said.

Nigeria will play Croatia in Kaliningrad in the first match of their World Cup campaign. Nigeria have been drawn in Group D alongside Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

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