Nigeria's 1-0 opening loss to Group B favourites Argentina extended a run in FIFA World Cup™ finals to six matches without a win -- including five defeats -- but the Swedish coach stayed positive ahead of Thursday's match. "Despite the loss to Argentina we had a good week," he told reporters.
"The players have a really good attitude. Everything is OK in the camp so I'm really looking forward to the game. What we have given priority to in training in the days after the Argentina game is to try to be a little bit sharper in the attacking part of the game," Lagerback said. He added that the team had worked on its defending of corners after Argentina's Gabriel Heinze headed the winner from the set-piece.
Nigeria and UEFA EURO 2004 winners Greece, who went down 2-0 to Korea Republic, are rooted at the bottom of the group and a defeat for either would almost certainly spell the end of their FIFA World Cup dreams.
But Lagerback said the pressure to win the game at Bloemfontein's Free State stadium would help focus minds. "I'm really looking forward to it even as it is . . . probably a must win to go through to the second round. I see it as a positive challenge and I think having talked to the players they look upon it the same," he said.
Lagerback said Nigeria had watched Greece and were not anticipating any surprises. "I think we know them very well and basically it's about the same team, the way they are playing so it's not a big difference," he said, referring to how Greece had played over recent years.
Forward Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi said the players were enjoying being part of history at Africa's first FIFA World Cup. "I think there is a lot of motivation in the team and everyone's staying focused and there's a lot of professionalism in the team so I think everything's going to work out fine," he said.
Lagerback said the team had benefited from holding some training sessions out of the spotlight. "It's always good, in my opinion, that we can have a bit of calm and peace around the training sessions. Otherwise if you have a lot of people around it disturbs focus and concentration," he said.
Nigeria's last victory at a FIFA World Cup was back in 1998 when they beat Bulgaria 1-0 in France.