The Super Eagles’ World Cup record against Argentina does not make for happy reading: three losses, including a 1–0 defeat in the 2010 group stages.
However, after their vital win against Bosnia (their first in nine World Cup games) all Nigeria need to qualify tonight is a draw.
They have been buoyed by a surprisingly robust defensive formation, one which has yet to concede a goal in this year’s tournament. The trouble is at the other end manager Stephen Keshi’s side has been pretty toothless, with Stoke winger Peter Odemwingie scoring their only goal of the group stage.
Scoring was never meant to have been an issue for Argentina’s demonic front four of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria. Yet they were constantly frustrated against Iran, with only an injury time curling beauty from Messi saving his country’s blushes. “Everyone would like to have a Messi,” said coach Alex Sabela. “But he is ours.” Too right.
The South Americans are already qualified, but to avoid a nasty-looking potential Last 16 challenge against France they will want to make sure they top the group. Brazil were in a similar situation when they faced Cameroon on Monday night. They put on a crowd-pleasing 4-1 victory. Now it’s time for Argentina to justify their pre-tournament billing.