Tianjin Teda of China midfielder, John Mikel Obi has put down the inability of Nigeria’s players to make hay against England on Saturday to what he called ‘defensive tactics’ employed by The Three Lions’ manager, Gareth Southgate.
Mikel said it would have been a different result had Southgate allowed an open game, instead of ‘parking the bus,’ but the Super Eagles captain commended his teammates for rising to the occasion in the second half.
Nigeria eventually lost the game 2-1, as Southgate deployed a 3-5-2 formation for the game, with Gary Cahill, John Stones and Kyle Walker the central defenders, while Ashley Young and Kieran Trippier were the wing-backs.
Mikel pondered: ”We played against a team with five in the back. They always have an extra man. How do you play against a team with five in the back?
“It is always difficult but I think in the second half we played with five in the back as well to try and match them and that’s what we did.
”We played much better, we created chances and we scored the goal. We know we can play better, we have to be playing this way. We need to be together, we need to be strong as a team.”
However, technical buffs at Chelsea, Mikel’s former club in the English Premier League appeared to hit the Eagles’ captain hard, and pointed an accusing finger at him for the first goal.
Gary Cahill thumped in a header to give the hosts the lead after six minutes, captain Kane doubled the advantage on 39 minutes, before Alex Iwobi halved the deficit one minute after the restart, but Chelsea hailed their skipper for getting the better of Mikel to open scoring.
The Blues stated: ”Gary Cahill was on target for England at Wembley this evening, as the Three Lions stepped up their World Cup preparations with victory over Nigeria.
”The Chelsea skipper opened the scoring after just seven minutes, powering home a trademark header after escaping the attentions of former Blue, John Mikel Obi, to meet a Kieran Trippier corner.”