By Eric Elezuo
While the Super Eagles of Nigeria were busy beating Iceland, they were giving the Albiceleste of Argentina hope to live and fight another day.
Consequently, both teams will be meeting in a make or mar encounter this evening at the Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg as the final games of group D in the Russia 2018 World Cup hold. The task is daunting as both countries seek to progress to the knockout stages.
If the Eagles triumph this evening, it will be the first time a Nigerian team has beaten Argentina in a World Cup encounter. Argentina, on the other hand will be looking forward to consolidating their superiority over Nigeria at World Cup level.
Nigeria and Argentina are meeting a fifth time at the World Cup with the Eagles losing all the four previous encounters. The Argentines triumphed 2-1 over Nigeria in 1994, they were 1-0 winners in 2002 and 2010 and beat the Eagles 3-2 in 2014. Hence, the Eagles would be seeking to end a run of consecutive losses to the Albiceleste.
After losing their opening match in the group 2-0 to Croatia and beating debutants Iceland 2-0 on Friday, the Super Eagles need to avoid a defeat against two-time champions Argentina to progress to the round of 16
Albiceleste are on their way out except they beat the Eagles and hope that Iceland lose to or draw with Croatia in the other group match. The have only one point from their two games played so far. The South Americans drew 1-1 with Iceland – with Lionel Messi missing a penalty – and lost 3-0 to Croatia.
Nigeria may likely capitalise on the reported unrest in the camp of the Argentines to cause an upset. Report has it that the players may selected who to play in defiance to their coach
Overall at senior level, Nigeria and Argentina have met eight times – the most recent of which was in a friendly match in Krasnodar, Russia in November 2017. Nigeria have won twice in friendly matches – a 4-1 win in Abuja in 2011 and a 4-2 win last year in Krasnodar. One of the meetings ended in a draw – a goalless draw in the Confederations Cup in 1995 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Argentina have won the rest.
However, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr would be banking on the form of two-goal hero – against Iceland – Ahmed Musa and the unity of purpose among his players for a result that would guarantee Nigeria’s fourth appearance in the round of 16. The Eagles have only failed to progress from the group stages on two occasions – 2002 and 2010.