Would a FIFA World Cup be complete without the Super Eagles facing Argentina? Doesn’t look like so. Since 1994, both countries have been grouped together in the first round of matches.
With Croatia already qualified by topping Group D, Nigeria and Argentina both need a win to reach the Round of 16- Argentina more desperately so. The highly rated La Albiceleste have yet to win a match at Russia 2018. Ahead of the extremely decisive match, here’s a look at the countries’ twenty-four years of World Cup rivalry.
USA 94: Argentina 2- Nigeria 1
The Golden Generation of the Super Eagles took the world by storm in 1994. The players, led by Dutch coach Clemens Westerhof were rated fifth in the world at their World Cup debut, the ever highest ranking for an African team. Samson Siasia scored Nigeria’s only goal before Claudio Caniggia double gave Argentina the win. Both countries then crashed out in the second round after losses to Italy and Romania respectively.
Korea-Japan 2002: Argentina 1- Nigeria 0
The sides missed each other in France 98 faced each other again inIbaraki, Japan. It would turn out to one of the worst outings for the Super Eagles. They lost 1-0 against Argentina in the first group game, lost again to Sweden and managed a draw with England. Argentina didn’t fare better either- they lost against Sweden and drew England as well, ensuring that both teams did not progress to the second round.
South Africa 2010: Argentina 1- Nigeria 0
Fourteen years after he led La Albiceleste as captain, Diego Maradonareturned to the team as head coach. Argentina won by a goal throughGabriel Heinze’s header and went as far as the quarterfinal while a second defeat against Greece saw them exit the tournament early.
Brazil 2014: Nigeria 2- Argentina 3
Perhaps the most thrilling encounter between the two sides. Lionel Messi was the current holder of the Ballon D’or, but he had never scored against Nigeria. He rectified that quickly with two goals past Victor Enyeama. Ahmed Musa leveled scores with a brace of his own and Messi had to be substituted before Argentina got their third goal and a win. Nigeria moved on to play France in the Round of 16 while Argentina lost to Germany in the finals.
Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr– who we profiled on TheNetng yesterday– thinks that the tide turns eventually. “Runs like that have to come to an end at some point,” he said at his press conference.
For once, Argentina does not have the upper hand as they go into the match later today in St. Petersburg. Their outing at Russia 2018 so far has been nothing short of disastrous. Not only are the players in an open revolt against their coach Jorge Sampoli, their star man Lionel Messi cannot even get a goal. All they have is a hope that their fifth meeting with Nigeria will yield the same result for them.
Russia 2018 Nigeria vs Argentina: A preview
Two-goal hero Ahmed Musa is also brimming with confidence; he now has four goals from two games against a Messi side- one in the Brazil group game in 2014 and the other when his Leicester side faced Barcelona. Nigerians hope the fifth time would be the charm for the Super Eagles.
Other Matches Today
Australia vs Peru
Denmark vs France
Iceland vs Croatia