26th June, 2018
Today is the D day in Group D of the 2018 World Cup Competition in Russia as perennial rivals – Nigeria and Argentina square off against one another in a game to decide who qualifies for the next round of the competition.
As is to be expected in such a setting, a lot of people have been talking about this game as well as making some permutations as to how the match will turn out.
One of such people is the former Nigerian International, Mutiu Adepoju. Below are excerpts form an interview he granted a Media House recently.
“I expect a very good and exciting match, even more than what we saw against Iceland the other day. I expect to see two teams with two contrasting fortunes.
A Nigerian side brimming with confidence after the 2-0 win over Iceland and an Argentina that’s bristling with hurt and anger after getting just one point from two games.
Argentina are a wounded lion seeking for revenge. They will be desperate to get all three points and, honestly, they have the players to do it. They will want to come out all guns blazing hoping to catch the Super Eagles.
And, I think, this is where Nigeria can be dangerous. We are also desperate. We want to win and progress to the next round. If Argentina thinks they are hurt, the Eagles also want to make Nigerians happy so they have their backs to the wall. And the whole world knows how dangerous Nigeria can be when our backs are to the wall. We can be very dangerous.
If I’m Rohr, they say you don’t change a winning team so I will allow the team that played the last game to start although I would want Tyronne Ebuehi to be in the starting line-up. I want the same personnel we used in midfield. We need to mop up spaces in the middle so that Lionel Messi is starved of the ball.
I played against Argentina twice, once at the 1994 World Cup and the 1995 Intercontinental (now Confederations) Cup in Saudi Arabia. The current team is nothing to compare with that team but there are certain characteristics common to all Argentina teams like their tenacity, never say die attitude and readiness to fight dirty and win by all means necessary including conning the referee to get favours. They also have a team filled with quality players. A team with Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala etc is a team to respect anyday. i expect them to come out strongly, compact and look to force errors.
Messi is the greatest threat regardless of the team’s performance so far. He is the man to stop but we have to be careful how we approach him. I want someone to be on him and stick to him like a second skin. I think Wilfred Ndidi is better suited for that job but we can use Oghenekaro Etebo too. It just means that we will be curtailing the attacking instinct of Etebo if we give him that role.
On our own side, Ahmed Musa has already made himself undroppable after that amazing performance against Iceland. I believe he’s going to continue in that form. Etebo and Ndidi in midfield will play alongside captain Mikel Obi. Iheanacho also complements the attack with his hold-up play.
Musa’s speed will come in handy against the Argentina central defence of Javier Mascherano and Nicolas Otamendi which is not the fastest pair, in my opinion. When he played against them in the 2014 World Cup and last November in the friendly game, he showed that speed and did well so I believe he will do well again today.
Finally, I’m excited about this game and I believe we shall get enough to progress to the next round. I predict a 2-1 win for Nigeria in this game. See you at full time. Up Super Eagles!