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Super Eagles back in Essentuki, focus on La Albiceleste

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Nigeria’s forward Kelechi Iheanacho (C), Nigeria’s defender Leon Balogun (L) and Nigeria’s defender William Troost-Ekong (R) take part in a training session at Essentuki Arena in southern Russia on June 23, 2018, during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

The Super Eagles have flown back to their World Cup team base camp in Essentuki, advising that further drumming and singing be kept on hold until the final whistle against La Albiceleste of Argentina in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

Victory took Nigeria to second place in Group D of this FIFA World Cup but the three-time African champions must avoid defeat against the desperate South Americans in the giant arena in Krestovsky to make progress to the knockout rounds.

Croatia top Group D with six points and a plus five goals advantage, with Nigeria second on three points and on an equilibrium on goals scored and conceded, while Iceland and Argentina lie further back with a point each.

Croatia tackle Iceland at the same time (9pm Saint Petersburg; 7pm Nigeria) in Rostov-On-Don.

Captain Mikel John Obi, who played through the pain barrier in the final minutes against Iceland, said the squad was fully concentrated on the match against Argentina, which would determine further interest at the World Cup finals.

“We celebrated the win yesterday but today is another day and the focus is on Argentina. That is the only thing on our minds now. It is important that we keep the focus and plan our strategy quite well.

“We thank Nigerians from all over the world for their support. Their faith in us and their belief in our ability have continued to propel us. We will set up very well against Argentina to get a result.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino watched the match at the Volgograd Arena, which was attended by 40, 904 spectators.

NFF President Amaju Pinnick, a member of the CAF Executive Committee and member of the organising committee for FIFA competitions, also watched the match alongside other NFF Board members.

Senate President Bukola Saraki led the cheers, alongside former Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio.

Also there was the Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Prof. Steve Ugbah; Permanent Secretary in the Sports Ministry, Mr. Olusade Adesola; Nigeria’s IOC Member Habu Gumel and, other members of the presidential delegation.


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