By Akinwale Kasali
With elimination starring at the faces of the Super Eagles team after their abysmal display against the Croatia national team, the Gernot Rohr are still optimistic that they could still scale through out of Group D.
The players know that they have no choice than to go all out against the Icelandic team to have any hope of advancing to the next phase of the competition.
Rohr has disclosed that the team will go all out for victory against the European team.
There was joy in the Super Eagles camp following a big to Iceland midfielder, Johan Berg Gudmundsson.
Iceland winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson is very unlikely to recover from injury in time to play in the World Cup Group D game against Nigeria on Friday, his coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said.
“He is getting better every day. He is in good hands. I am not going to hide that it is very unlikely that he will play,’’ Hallgrimsson told reporters on Thursday.
Gudmundsson was substituted midway through the second half of Iceland’s surprise 1-1 draw with twice world champions Argentina on Saturday.
Hallgrimsson said the absence of the winger, who plays for Burnley in England’s Premier League, would not upset the balance of his team.
“We are not afraid. It will not change the plans that we have decided before this game,’’ he said.
Iceland playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson, who recovered from injury in time for the World Cup and played against Argentina, is 100 per cent fit.
In another development, Cristiano Ronaldo was compared to a vintage wine after making history with Portugal to send Morocco crashing out of the World Cup.
The 33-year-old scored the 85th goal of his international career, a new record for a European player, just four minutes into this game.
And his coach Fernando Santos believes the Real Madrid star, who was sporting a new goatee beard for the occasion, just gets better with age.
Ronaldo’s headed winner meant Morocco, who last week failed with a bid to host the 2026 World Cup, became the first team eliminated from this one.
He also leads the race for the Golden Boot after his sensational hat-trick against Spain, and his four goals so far in the finals are the most he has scored in a major tournament.
Asked why Ronaldo has been able to perform so well Portugal boss Fernando Santos said: “Because he has a great coach!
“Cristiano is like a port wine. He knows how to refine his capacity and his age at his best. He is constantly evolving contrarily to regular players.
“He’s always evolving. Today he doesn’t want to do the same things as four or five years ago. In three years he won’t do the same things as today. He knows how to improve himself.
“It’s a World Cup and the team is a strong team. Morocco is also a strong team. We have to grow. We played well but we need to do better than that.
“We have to continue pushing forward and have to change to get more ball possession, for example.”
Portugal will now look to finish top of the group by beating Iran in Saransk on Monday, while eliminated Morocco face Spain in Kaliningrad.
Ronaldo said: “I’m very happy. The most important thing was to win the game, to make the three points. We know if we lost we could be out. We knew that Morocco would be trying very hard.
“It was a surprise because from the start they were going very strong. I managed to score the goal and I’m very happy.
“Our expectation is to try to continue our work and try to get through the group stage. We’re almost there. We will try to make first place. We have to think match by match in order to progress.”
Ronaldo scored from a cross by Joao Moutinho but Morocco complained it should not have stood because there was a foul by Pepe on Khalid Boutaib as the ball came in.
But while they outplayed Portugal for long spells, with new Wolves keeper forced to make a superb save from Younes Belhanda, they could not find a way to equalise.
Morocco manager Herve Renard said: “Have a good look at what No3 is doing and write your own analysis.
“I am very proud of this country and of my players. I am not disappointed with this performance.
“In this Moscow stadium we felt like we were playing in Casablanca, which helped us a great deal.”
Players union Fifpro questioned whether Morocco followed concussion protocols after Noureddine Amrabat was allowed to play on after removing his protective headgear.
Renard said: “Concerning Amrabat, he’s a warrior, he wanted to play, he put the protection, he took it off 30 minutes after the match started.
“It’s because his spirit is amazing and I was lucky to have a player like this. I’m not a doctor. Medical reports are read by competent people.
“I’m not competent in medical matters and they take their own responsibility and so does the player. He did an exceptional and outstanding match.”