BY KUNLE SOLAJA, KALININGRAD.
When Luka Modric converted the 71st minute spot kick for Croatia in Saturday’s match against Nigeria, it was not just a back-breaking goal for the Super Eagles, the penalty kick goal which is the second Nigeria conceded in World Cup history was a milestone in the FIFA World Cup.
Luka Modric sends Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho to the wrong direction as he scores the World Cup’s 2,400th goal in history.
It was the 2,400th goal in World Cup history. It is be recalled that Nigeria had in 1994 conceded what was the 1,500th goal of the competition when Claudio Caniggia scored an equalizer for Argentina in an eventual 2-1 defeat of the Super Eagles.
Legendary Diego Maradona congratulates Caniggia after scoring the equaliser in an eventual 2-1 defeat of Nigeria 28 years ago in US. It was the 1,500th goal in World Cup history.
The goal by Modric also marked the second time ever Nigeria conceded a second goal in an opening game of the World Cup. The last time was in the 3-2 defeat of Spain 20 years ago in Nantes.
The Saturday defeat was the third straight one for Nigeria having lost 2-3 to Argentina and 0-2 to France four years ago in Brazil. When Oghenekaro Etebo deflected the ball into the net for Croatia, it was the second own goal that Nigeria scored in the World Cup.
Oghenekaro Etebo scores’ the 42nd World Cup’s own goal and the second by Nigeria.
Sadly, the own goals came back-to-back as Joseph Yobo had scored similarly in Nigeria’s preceding World Cup match , a round of 16 encounter with France four years ago. Yobo’s own goal was the 41st in World Cup history while that of Etebo now becomes the 42nd.
For Croatia, the beneficiary of Etebo’s own goal, it was the second time in World Cup history that the team reaped such benefit. Four years ago in the opening match of the Brazil 2014, the first goal was a gift by Brazil’s Marcelo. Incidentally, the referee of the Croatia versus Nigeria match is a Brazilian.
By the Saturday’s loss, the Super Eagles have had a run of four open games of the World Cup without a win and without scoring. They last scored when Sunday Oliseh powered home a long range shot that ensured a 3-2 defeat of Spain 20 years ago in France.
The defeat by Croatia also marked the second time Nigeria had conceded two goals in an opening game of their World Cup campaign.