By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- Nigeria’s final Group D game
against Argentina promises to be one of the most dramatic to
date in the World Cup finals as both sides look to book a place
in the last 16 of the competition.
Nigeria bounced back
from an opening game disappointment when they lost 2-0 to
Croatia, to beat Iceland by the same score in Volgograd. A draw
against Argentina will probably be enough to put them into the
Argentina have been
the biggest disappointment of the World Cup so far, and with Leo
Messi out of form they have lacked cohesion and energy,
prompting stories of divisions between players and coach Jorge
Nigeria coach Gernot
Rohr is optimistic his side can eliminate Argentina, even though
they have never beaten the ‘Albiceleste’ in a World Cup fixture.
“That sort of a run
has to end sometime,” he said in an interview with FIFA.
“We are confident
because we beat Argentina in a friendly (in Russia) last year,
coming back from 2-0 down to win 4-2,” Leo Messi didn’t play,
but we scored four wonderful goals and that gives us hope,”
The Nigerian coach
insisted his side were still the underdogs against Argentina,
who have only one point from 2 matches after drawing 1-1 against
Iceland and losing 3-0 to Croatia.
“You have to put
Argentina’s so-called weakness into perspective. They had bad
luck with the penalty in their first game, and the outcome
would’ve been different if that had gone in,” he explained,
adding that Messi is “one of the best players in the world” and
that Argentina have “unbelievable quality throughout the team.”
Nigeria will look to
counter Messi and company with “youthful abandon, enthusiasm and
desire. Most of our players want to get to where the
Argentinians already are: the very top,” commented Ruhr, who
believes the match will be a showcase for the talent in his
‘The whole world
will be watching this game and it’s a chance to show what we’re
capable of,” he concluded..
Nigeria to show no
pity to Argentina, says coach
SAINT PETERSBURG Russia (Xinhua) --
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr says his team
will strive for victory and show no mercy and no pity to
Argentina in Tuesday’s crucial Group D match.
In the last game of
the World Cup group stage, Nigeria will secure a place in the
last 16 with a win, while a draw would also suffice if Iceland
don’t beat group leaders Croatia by a large margin.
To advance to the
knockout stage, Argentina and Lionel Messi must beat the African
team and hope Iceland don’t defeat Croatia in the other Group D
game. With Messi generally believed to be playing in his last
World Cup, Argentina’s early exit from the competition may cause
the 31-year-old to quit his national team.
“We love this great
player Messi, everybody loves him,” Rohr told reporters during a
press conference on the eve of the match against Argentina in
“But the question
for us is not if it’s the last World Cup for him. The question
for us is to qualify. We are not here to watch him play,” the
“We’re here to get a
result. We are professionals and we have to defend the colors of
Nigeria. In football, there is no mercy, no pity. Everybody
wants to win. You can not give any gifts even if you like him so
much,” Rohr added.
vowed that Nigeria would come out fighting. “We know that this
will be a hard battle. They have to win. Perhaps a draw will be
enough for us but it’s not sure. We also want to win, so it
could be a very spectacular game of football tomorrow.”
mentally, is good and positive,” Rohr added.
Rohr said he had several formations to choose from. He also
urged his team to avoid unnecessary fouls and conceding late
Nigeria to make Tuesday’s match
as Messi’s last World
Cup game in Russia, says defender Bryan Idowu
SAINT PETERSBURG Russia (Xinhua) --
Nigeria defender Bryan Idowua said on
Monday that their main goal and only option of Tuesday’s match
against Argentina is to make that to be Lionel Messi’s last game
In the last round of
World Cup group stage, Nigeria will surely secure a place in the
last 16 with a win while a draw will also suffice if Iceland
don’t beat group leaders Croatia with big margin.
For Argentines, they
can only have the chance of progressing if they clinch a big win
Idowua said on the
pre-match press conference that although he and his teammates
loved to “watch the football games that Messi plays”, but “now
he is playing against us so there is only one option for us.”
“Tuesday’s match has
to be his last World Cup game in Russia,” he told reporters.
The match at Saint
Petersburg Stadium marks the fifth World Cup clash between
Argentina and Nigeria and Argentina won all the last four.
tactics, the 26-year-old defender said they need to avoid making
fouls inside and outside the box.
“Argentines are so
good at free-kicks. We are going to play aggressive but we are
going to avoid unnecessary fouls,” he said.
The Nigeria defender
also warned his teammates against conceding a late goal. At the
World Cup in Russia, many teams were defeated because of goals
in the injury time.
“This World Cup has
shown that you have to be prepared for the whole game because
anything can happen in a football match. You have to be 100
percent concentrated every time on the pitch before the
referee’s whistle,” he said.
against Argentina in a friendly match last November, coming on
as a half-time substitute and scoring Nigeria’s third goal in a
He said Tuesday’s
game is totally different because it’s a World Cup match which
is crucial for both teams.
“It’s going to be a
big and important game. For the football and for the teams,”
Idowua said, “Hopefully, we can get the job done and qualify
from the group.”
Sampaoli: Messi to
have more of the ball against Nigeria
SAINT PETERSBURG Russia (Xinhua) --
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli says star player
Lionel Messi will see more of the ball in their crucial Group D
match against Nigeria.
Argentina suffered a
3-0 loss against Croatia last Thursday, with captain Messi
especially isolated, only touching the ball 20 times in the
“I think that match
was complicated for Leo, the structure of the game didn’t favor
him,” Sampaoli told reporters during the pre-match press
conference in Saint Petersburg.
“He didn’t get a lot
of balls from midfield and that was a mistake. If he had the
ball less than usual then it is because Argentina didn’t
dominate or have that many opportunities. But we have worked on
that and, for the good of Argentina, I am sure Lionel Messi will
have the ball much more against Nigeria than in the previous
match,” he added.
With only one point
after two matches, Argentina are on the brink of an early exit
from the World Cup. To advance to the knockout stage, the
Albiceleste must beat Nigeria and hope Iceland don’t defeat
Croatia in the other remaining Group D game.
“It’s been a tough
week for us. After the last match, I took responsibility for
that defeat. The next day, as a coach, all I thought about was
winning,” Sampaoli acknowledged.
According to the
Argentinian media, the coach and players have been at odds over
Sampaoli’s constant changes in strategy and personnel. On that
point, the 58-year-old was quick to defend his authority.
“I am totally
convinced that team will go onto the pitch with great energy to
secure a victory. There will be a new page in the history of the
national squad,” he added. “We have to play the game with a lot
of heart, and a lot of mental strength, to make things safe for
us. Argentina’s World Cup starts tomorrow.”