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Why Nigeria must beat Argentina today

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Nigeria’s midfielder John Obi Mikel (C) takes part in a training session of Nigeria’s national football team at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg, on June 25, 2018 on the eve of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Argentina. CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty seven (8,767) days after both teams first met, Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Argentina’s La Albiceleste will lock horns in what has become a game of life and death today.

The first time both countries met, Argentina ran away with a 2-1 victory. The match, played at the Foxboro Stadium, Boston, Massachusetts, on June 25, 1994, saw Claudio Caniggia scoring two goals in a spate of seven minutes to put Argentina on the victory path. Samson Siasia had earlier scored for Nigeria in the eighth minute.

Both teams met again eight years later in 2002 in South Korea, where Argentina also came out victorious. Gabriel Batistuta’s 63rd minute goal was all that Argentina needed to prove its superiority over Nigeria.

Gabriel Heinze’s sixth-minute header ultimately proved the difference between Nigeria and Argentina again when both teams met at the Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa on June 12, 2010. The exciting game featured 31 shots on goal.

Two goals from Lionel Messi and one from Marcos Rojos were what Argentina held on to when they defeated Nigeria in the 2014 World Cup played in Brazil.

The match, which ended 3-2, saw Nigeria’s Ahmed scoring two goals in the match played at the Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Lying a humiliating last in a group they were expected to top, Argentina must beat Nigeria today to have any chance of progressing and keeping alive Captain Messi’s dream of winning a first World Cup.

Nigeria’s win against Argentina, which looked shambolic in its first two games despite boasting some of the biggest names in the game, will guarantee the team a place in the second round.

So far, Nigeria’s best result against La Albiceleste of Argentina in a competitive match was the goalless draw in the FIFA Confederations Cup played in Riyahd, Saudi Arabia on January 10, 1995.

Of their three friendlies, Nigeria won two, the first being a 4-1 victory on September 6, 2011 and another on November 14, 2017 when Nigeria thrashed Argentina 4-2.

Today’s match comes up at the 67,000-capaity Saint Petersburg Stadium also known as the Krestovsky Stadium.


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