#WorldCup Preview: Rohr must let the cannons loose to defeat Argentina

Super Eagles

Nigerian football legend Segun Odegbami along with NFF President Amaju Pinnick addressed the Super Eagles ahead of their most important game against Argentina by 7:00pm today in Saint Petersburg at the team hotel. Odegbami stressed that the Super Eagles stood a unique pedestal that no other team in the history of Nigerian football has had. He stated that the Super Eagles must play with determination, pace and strength to out power the mighty Argentine cannons. He also spoke about the strength in diversity we have in the team, and the participation and support from Nigerians in diaspora.

As shambolic and out of sort as Argentina looked against a very good Croatia team – and even worse off, their off the field drama with Jorge Sampaoli’s power in the dressing room usurped or undermined by key influences in the dressing room and a certain Diego Maradona from outside, Argentina will still be a tough nut to crack when we face them today.

As Odegbami said, the Super Eagles must show courage and play the game of their lives to ensure qualification to the second round by defeating Argentina – the best case scenario. If we want to take it out of our hands then we should avoid defeat by drawing then hope Croatia doesn’t lose to Iceland. Many Nigerians are very confident that we will defeat Argentina – typical Nigerian behaviour – over-bloated confidence in my opinion.

However, I will ride with the wave this time and I am optimistic (quietly confident) that we will be in the next round most likely France, depending on how results go later today. From the polls I have done, many people predict a 2-0 victory for the Super Eagles – a result I wholeheartedly agree with.

I should believe Gernot Rohr has learnt his lesson now and will stick to the 3-5-2 formation, even moreso today than any other day because Messi and co are injured bulls that will charge aggressively with their horns and we need reassurance at the back. Kenneth Omeruo should definitely start – his performance against Iceland was the reason we won that game. He possesses a good aerial presence and provides more solidity at the back, especially with his World Cup experience against Argentina four years ago.

It also goes without saying that Ahmed Musa should start, as a matter of fact I recommend Rohr goes with the same starting 11 as he did against Iceland. Nigeria is at its best when we compete for a game and charge at the opponents – that is our identity as a nation. However, Rohr has been unwilling to let the cannons loose. I hope he does today.

Argentina is a very familiar foe. It has become the most recurring theme of all our World Cup stories that we face Argentina. They have had the upper hand for years, majorly with a lone goal. Today, I believe we will give them the retribution they so deserve, although we are unlikely to shock them with tactics or style of play because they know us too well. But our attitude, desire, passion and belief we take us to the round of 16 – hopefully o!

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • In each of the last four World Cups Nigeria have qualified for (2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018) they have been drawn in the same group as Argentina. They were also in the same group in 1994.
  • The Super Eagles have lost all four of their previous World Cup games against Argentina, with all of those defeats by single-goal margins (1-0 in 2002 and 2010, 2-1 in 1994, 3-2 in 2014).
  • The Nigerians lost a group game to Paraguay at the 1998 tournament, so have been defeated in all five of their World Cup matches versus South American opposition.

Nigeria

  • Nigeria’s six World Cup wins have all come against European sides – they have never beaten opposition from another continent.
  • The only previous time the Super Eagles won back-to-back World Cup games was in 1998, when they defeated Spain and Bulgaria in their first two matches.
  • Victory would ensure Nigeria reach the knock-out stage for a second successive World Cup, and for the fourth time in six appearances overall.
  • Ahmed Musa is Nigeria’s all-time top scorer at the World Cup with four goals – two against Iceland at this tournament, and two versus Argentina in 2014.

Argentina

  • The only previous time Argentina have failed to win a game at a World Cup was in 1934, when the tournament was a straight knock-out. They selected an inexperienced, amateur squad, and lost 3-2 to Sweden in the first round.
  • They have never completed a first round group stage at a World Cup without at least one win.
  • The Argentines are enduring their longest winless run in World Cup history (D2, L2), although that four-match streak includes the 2014 semi-final against the Dutch, which they won on penalties.
  • They last lost back-to-back World Cup games in 1994 (against Bulgaria and Romania). They have never lost consecutive games in the opening group stage.
  • Lionel Messi has failed to score with his last 22 shots in matches at World Cup finals.
  • But over the last two years he has scored 14 goals in 18 games for Argentina.

SOURCE: BBC Sport

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