Tomas Kalas’s first-half winner condemned an uninspiring Nigeria to a 1-0 defeat in their final pre-World Cup friendly at the Rudolf Tonn Stadium in Schwechat, Austria on Wednesday.
It was a second successive defeat in four days for the Super Eagles, a disappointing conclusion to preparations ahead of a sixth World Cup appearance for the West Africans, who have to improve ahead of their opening group game against Croatia on June 16.
Despite expectedly making two changes in midfield from the England defeat, with John Ogu and the returning Wilfred Ndidi coming into the line-up for Ogenyi Onazi and Joel Obi, the alterations did little in improving the Eagles’ fortunes.
Nigeria were living dangerously early on, conceding seven corner kicks within the opening 17 minutes. Abdullahi Shehu also had to produce goal-saving blocks to deny Josef Sural an opener and to prevent a John Obi Mikel own goal.
Francis Uzoho came to his side’s rescue to deny Patrik Schick on the volley, but the Europeans couldn’t be denied in the 25th minute when Kalas broke the deadlock.
Tomas Soucek attacked Vladimir Coufal’s corner, and his effort was saved by Uzoho’s thighs, but the rebound was tucked in Kalas.
The goal prompted a response from the Nigerians, who went close through efforts from Odion Ighalo and Ndidi, but on both occasions, they were denied by fine saves from Tomas Vaclik.
Despite switching to a 3-5-2 formation in the second-half and bossing possession, Nigeria failed to break down their opponents.
The best chance fell to Victor Moses, who failed to control the ball with just the goalkeeper to beat in wet conditions.
(Source credit: Dami Ugbane, KweséESPN)