Super Eagles coordinator Patrick Pascal has pleaded with critics to lay off Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr as well as his players OdionIghalo and Kenneth Omeruo.
The trio have been copping it from all directions after Nigeria were dumped out of the 2018 World Cup following their 2-1 defeat to Argentina in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
Rohr has faced a barrage of criticism from the Nigerian media, commentators and fans for failing to grind out a draw in the encounter in which Marcos Rojo’s strike four minutes from time sent the Eagles out of Russia.
China-based striker Ighalo reportedly received death threats after he missed two good chances to win the match for Nigeria.
Omeruo, who collected plenty of plaudits for a good performance against Iceland, has been under criticism for his inability to prevent Lionel Messi from scoring his trademark goal in the encounter.
But former Nigeria defender Pascal disagreed with the criticism, saying they performed well in the clash.
“I understand how Nigerians feel, and I understand the frustration when you don’t come out of the field with the right result,” the former Shooting Stars defender told our correspondent.
“It’s normal for people to criticise the coach and the players. The same coach we are criticising gave us the ticket to the World Cup in a group where we had Cameroon, Zambia and Algeria.
“We were building and rebuilding our team, and we had no faith in the team before he came.
“When we beat Iceland, who drew 1-1 against Argentina, 2-0, nobody criticised the coach’s tactics.
“We lost to a team with Messi and other top players and we have learnt from our mistakes.”
The former Turkey-based player insisted Ighalo had a good outing in Russia.
He said, “Ighalo wanted to score goals and make his name. Top players have also missedgreat chances in the tournament and we should not crucify him.
“Ighalo’s goals and assists contributed to our World Cup qualification. If we ask him to leave the national and bring in another striker, do we ask the new player to leave if he misses scoring chances?”
Pascal added, “There is no defender in the world who will find it easy marking Messi. Omeruo and other defenders tried their best to stop Messi.
“Messi has beaten top defenders to score such goals. Omeruo deserves praise for his performance against Iceland.”