What do you do with one of your brightest wards when he starts misbehaving? Do you indulge him or cast him aside?
That is the question Super Eagles’ Manager, Gernot Rohr, has to answer about Victor Moses before Nigeria enters its make or mar clash against Argentina on Tuesday.
Nigeria must get at least a draw in the clash with Argentina and hopes that Croatia keeps to form by beating Iceland in the group’s decisive encounters on Tuesday.
The matches are scheduled to be played concurrently with the results determining, which country joins leader, Croatia in the second round.
On Friday in Volgograd, a city renowned for Russia’s gallant battle with Germany that ultimately tipped the Second World War in favour of the allies, Nigeria rose from the ashes of its opening game defeat to beat Iceland in its second game of the competition.
Many heroics events have happened in the beautiful city formerly called Stalingrad and Nigeria’s victory added the country’s name to the city’s folklore and moved it closer to the second round of the on-going FIFA World Cup.
And now it must get a good result in Tuesday’s game against Argentina.
However, Rohr is worried by the attitude of one of his star players, who has failed to play the pivotal role the coach expected of him in this championship.
In the first game against Croatia, Moses tried several times without success to impress on the fans that he is a super star that deserved preferential treatment from everybody, including the referee.
He dived in attempts to win free kicks when it would have paid Nigeria better if he stayed on his feet and worked to make or score goals, which the country needed in its 0-2 loss to Croatia.
Before the second game on Friday, the technical crew thought the Super Eagles would gain in positive play if the team changed its tactics to a 3-5-2 formation with Moses playing as wingback, while skipper John Mikel Obi reverted to the defensive midfield position.
But Moses apparently did not like the decision that restricted him from “expressing his talent.”
When asked the Moses’ question during the post match press conference on Friday, Rohr explained that he has been working on his players to make them understand the need to sacrifice for the general good of the team.
“We called the players and told them why we must change our tactics. I spoke with Mikel and Moses to let them know the need for them to change positions.
“Moses plays as a wingback for Chelsea and I know he can do the job very well. We will continue to seek the players’ cooperation,” he said.
Rohr told the press that he was satisfied with Moses’ output during the game against Iceland, but his show of exasperation many times when the Chelsea walked instead of tracking back after misplacing a pass or losing the ball spoke volumes of his feelings.
Many of the Super Eagles fans inside the Volgograd Arena openly shouted on Rohr to replace Moses when he showed no sign of helping Nigeria’s cause in the first half of the game.
The Guardian learnt that Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick and many other dignitaries had to go to the dressing room to specifically impress on Moses the enormity of the task before the country and the expectations of him from his compatriots.
Another issue worrying the coaches is the slow start to matches by the team, which escaped unscathed in the first half of the match against Iceland simply because the Scandinavians were wasteful in front of goal.
The pattern actually started manifesting during the preparatory games for the World Cup and Nigeria was punished for it by England and Czech Republic.
“We will continue working on the team’s concentration and psychology of the players to get where we want.
“Don’t forget that this is a young team with many players that have never been involved at this level of competition.