Nigeria captain Mikel slams Croatia decision to rest star players
The Super Eagles could find themselves relying on the Group D leaders – who plan to leave big names out against Iceland – to reach the knockout stages
Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has called on Croatia to be professional and not rest players against Iceland in a match that could yet decide the Super Eagles’ World Cup fate.
Two goals from Ahmed Musa ensured Nigeria remain in the hunt for a place in the knockout stages as they saw off Iceland in Volgograd.
Gernot Rohr’s side now know that a victory over Argentina in Saint Petersburg will be enough for them to reach the last 16 for the fourth time in their history.
And though a defeat to the Albiceleste would confirm their elimination, a draw would mean they require Croatia to do them a favour against Iceland.
Croatia have already booked their place in the latter stages of the competition, and as such manager Zlatko Dalic has vowed to leave out some of his star players in a bid to conserve their fitness.
Mikel, though, does not understand the reasoning behind Dalic’s decision and feels it is unfair on the rest of the teams in the group.
“I don’t think it’s the best thing to do,” he told Goal. “This is a massive tournament – you can’t rest people and give others a chance of qualification.
“They should be professional and play their best team. This is such a big stage that you can’t rest players just to help other teams to qualify.”
Nigeria have faced Argentina four times in their previous five World Cup appearances, losing on all four occasions, but the form of the South American outfit has raised hopes that the Super Eagles can end that run.
Despite counting Lionel Messi among their number, Jorge Sampaoli’s side have picked up just one point from their two games thus far, including an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Croatia on Thursday.
However, Mikel is aware that recording the victory his side require will be no easy task.
“I think they have played well. It’s going to be a tough and difficult game for us.”
Both Nigeria’s clash with Argentina and Iceland’s match with Croatia take place simultaneously at 7:00pm BST (2:00pm ET) on Tuesday June 26.