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Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Sunday, 13 June 2010 14:01 UK

World Cup 2010: Nigeria's Etuhu rues poor preparation

Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze celebrates scoring

Highlights - Argentina 1-0 Nigeria

Nigeria midfielder Dickson Etuhu has revealed his frustration at a lack of high-altitude training prior to their 1-0 defeat by Argentina on Saturday.

"You could tell [Argentina] were used to it because they'd been there for quite a while," he told BBC World Service's Sportsworld programme.

"You take five or six steps, you feel like you've just done a whole lap."

He also described the controversial ball as "the worst ball ever", saying that it was "horrible" to play with.

The Super Eagles lost out to an impressive headed goal from un-marked Gabriel Heinze in the sixth minute of the game.

However, Nigeria managed to keep Argentina from adding to their lead for the entire game, despite having their goal peppered throughout much of the match.

Etuhu says the high-altitude conditions made the hard task of containing Argentina all the more difficult.

In the run-up to the first game the Nigerians had been training in Durban - which is not a high-altitude venue - before travelling to Johannesburg on Friday, giving the squad only one day to acclimatise to the conditions.

"It's the worst feeling ever," he said. "It goes straight to your head.

"So you have to battle with that, and at the same time deal with players like Messi. It's not easy."

For the first time in a long time you could see that we had some sort of coaching

Dickson Etuhu

He said keeping players like Messi under control is impossible given the depth of Argentina's squad.

"The problem is it's not just him - you've got Tevez, you've got Higuain, you've got Veron.

"There's so many of them so you can't really pick anyone up, you have to just mark the spaces.

"I had to watch the game pass by me and just cover holes rather than having a player that I was playing against."

As well as battling with the high-altitude and the high Argentine ability, Etuhu says the match ball - which has come under heavy criticism since being unveiled by Adidas - makes things even more difficult.


"When the keeper kicks the ball out, you can't head it. If the balls in the air you just don't know where it's going to go. It comes towards you and then just moves to the left or to the right."

Heading into their next game in Group B against Greece, Etuhu praised the influence of coach Lars Lagerback, who took over the Super Eagles in February.

"Usually when I play for my country it's not as organised as it was yesterday (Saturday).

"We didn't go out there to just play we actually had a game plan and we stuck together. For the first time in a long time you could see that we had some sort of coaching."

And he says the loss will have no impact on their game plan for the group stage.

"Nobody expected us to beat Argentina. Nothing's changed. We just have to prepare ourselves right and go and play with the same heart and desire."

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see also
Poor marking frustrates Lagerback
12 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup day two photos
12 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Nigeria's Obinna Nsofor on opener
12 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010

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