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Iceland, Argentina bank on weapons to subdue Nigeria

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Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho (14) celebrates with teammates after scoring the team’s first goal during an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on November 14, 2017. Nigeria will face Iceland and Argentina at the group stage of the 2018 World Cup. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV

Iceland and Argentina rate Nigeria as a tough customer, but they believe they have the weapons to defeat the Super Eagles. While Iceland is banking on its team spirit, Argentina believes that with Lionel Messi its task against Nigeria is half solved.

Everton’s attacking midfielder, Gylfi Sigurðsson yesterday revealed that teamwork has been the key to their success in recent years.

Apart from Sigurðsson, the Nordic country have in their ranks top stars including Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Emil Hallfreðsson (Udinese) and Alfreð Finnbogason (Augsburg), but their strength lies in unity, the playmaker has stressed.

“It has a lot to do with the team spirit that we have. How we are as a group is unique,” Gylfi Sigurðsson told fifa.com.

The country’s modest population, and the consequently small pool of players to pick from, ensures that Hallgrimsson’s squad rarely changes, and is largely comprised of close friends who have come through the youth ranks together.

Sigurðsson started every single game for Iceland in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and was on target against Kosovo and Ukraine.

Nigeria will face Iceland at Volgograd Arena, Volgograd on June 22 in their second match in Group D of the 2018 World Cup.

While Iceland banks on its teamwork, FC Zenit Saint Petersburg’s central defender, Emanuel Mammana says with Messi the South Americans don’t fear any foe.

The 21-year-old was on the bench in Krasnodar as Nigeria came back from two goals down to overcome the two-time world champions 4-2 on November 14.

“All the groups are difficult, Argentina has three very complicated rivals, with Nigeria we played recently, Iceland had a very good European Championship and Croatia is a country that always fights,’’ Mammana told TyC Sports.

“We know that we have the best of the world on our team and that gives you peace of mind.

“We all want Argentina to be a champion and that Leo can win a World Cup, that is the only thing he lacks.”

Nigeria and Argentina face off for the fifth time in the group stage of the World Cup at Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg on June 26.


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