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Russia 2018: Nigeria draws Argentina, Iceland in Group D


Nigeria’s Ola Aina and Argentina’s Javier Mascherano vie for the ball during an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on November 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV

The Super Eagles will once again come up against Argentina after being grouped alongside the two-time former world champions in Group D at Friday’s World Cup draw in Moscow.

Other teams in Group D are Iceland and Croatia.

The Super Eagles have played against Argentina in the group stage of all but one of their five previous World Cup appearances, and both sides will once again meet at next year’s tournament.

They lost to the South Americans in 1994, 2002, 2010, and 2014.

Nigeria will, however, open their campaign in Russia at next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia with a tough tie against Croatia on June 16 in Kaliningrad before taking on Iceland six days later in Volgograd, and then Argentina on June 26 in St Petersburg.

On paper, it is a tough group, and it is a fact that is not lost on Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo.

“It is a tough group. It is a tough group but even the other teams will be wary of us,” said Ighalo, who was instrumental to Nigeria’s qualification for the World Cup, shortly after the draw in a live TV programme on SuperSport.

“It is a tough group but we have what it takes to qualify.”

Nigeria recently defeated Argentina 4-2 in a friendly match played in Russia, but have never beaten the Argentines in a competitive fixture.

Iceland, meanwhile, will be making their first appearance at the football tournament. They are the smallest nation to have ever qualified for the World Cup but their heroics at last year’s European Championship, where they eliminated England on the way to a historic semi-final appearance, means they won’t be pushovers.

“Iceland are doing well,” continued Ighalo. “We all saw what they did to England at the last Euros, and they are not going to be pushovers.

“We will have to be at our best to get anything out of this game as well as all the other games.”

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Korea
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

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