Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel was left confused and frustrated after Marcos Rojo was not whistled for “a clear handball” late stages of Nigeria’s World Cup-ending 2-1 loss to Argentina.
With the match at that time in the game tied 1-1 and Nigeria finding space between the Argentina backline, Rojo went for a headed clearance that deflected off his hand and led to a video review.
Super Eagles players were adamant it was a penalty, but Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir — who awarded Nigeria a penalty early in the second half that Victor Moses converted — used VAR and stood by his initial decision not to award a spot kick, much to the frustration of Nigeria’s players.
“I don’t understand how that was not a penalty,” Mikel said. “It was a clear handball. If you look at this game yesterday against Portugal, this was even worse.”
Rojo went on to score Argentina’s late winner to send his side through, and put Nigeria out.
“He [Rojo] had the ball and it hit his hand and it was open. Maybe the referee didn’t want to give a second penalty,” Mikel said. “For us, we’ve seen the replay, it was a clear handball. He looked at the VAR, the ball hit the hand.
“I asked him for explanation, did the ball hit the hand? He said `Yes.’ Why is it not a penalty? He did not know.”