It has not been the best FIFA World Cup tournament for African teams. As things stand, three of the five representatives from the continent have been eliminated from the tournament: Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.
Nigeria’s win over Iceland – which was widely celebrated by fans – means that they’re still in with a fighting chance of qualifying out of the Group of Death. The Senegalese can also say same, after coping with the tireless Japanese and earning a point from a game that they should have won.
Going into the third round of group stage games, first place is still up for grabs in all eight groups. This can mean two things: There will be a stiff competition across board for the opportunity to finish top of the group. This stiff competition will in turn lead to fiercely contested games that fans will not want to miss.
Of all these games, one of the, if not the most important game in the world, is the one between Nigeria and Argentina in Group D.
On one side of the match-up, Ahmed Musa scored two goals against Iceland to give Nigeria hope of qualifying out of the group after the Super Eagles lost their first game.
On the other side, the Argentines, for all the stars their team boasts, have only scored one goal since the competition started. With their 3-0 loss against Croatia, they’re rock-bottom of the table, and will be looking to make a quantum leap into the knockout stages.
This alone somewhat makes Nigeria favorites to win this game. The team’s performance has been underwhelming, with rumors of player-manager rifts rife in the press. Lionel Messi is yet to score, despite being awarded a penalty and attempting the most shots (12) in the tournament.
After a switch of formation and a re-arrangement of player positions, Nigeria got ticking – albeit in the second half – against Iceland. If they’re to progress from this group, they must avoid a defeat against Argentina.
But the history between both sides doesn’t favor the Super Eagles much.
Nigeria’s two most recent wins over Argentina came in friendly games. In FIFA World Cup games, Nigeria has not had that much luck. In the past three meetings between both sides in the World Cup, Argentina has won all three, with the most recent meeting ending in a five-goal thriller… and with Messi scoring twice!
From all sides, it looks like a fairly balanced game, with both sides having their own fair share of issues.
Both teams need this game to progress. It’s time to go big or go home.
How do you think this game will end? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts with us.