Super Eagles can soar at World Cup after Argentina showing
Watching Argentina take on Nigeria, Super Eagles fans would have been forgiven for thinking they had stepped inside a World Cup time machine as Stephen Keshi’s team put in the kind of s display associated with the national team of the 1994 and 1998 finals.
Going up against a Lionel Messi-inspired Albiceleste side, the South Americans were expected to pick up three points with Nigeria seemingly happy to oblige, safe in the knowledge that only an unlikely victory for Iran would see them fail to advance.
Things appeared to be going to script three minutes in, with the Barcelona superstar firing Argentina into an early lead but just a minute later something surprising happened – Nigeria scored.
Cutting inside from the left-hand side of the box, Ahmed Musa unleashed a shot that evoked memories of Sunday Oliseh and Samson Siasia in their mid-90s pomp.
The chances came thick and fast at either end, though it was Argentina who appeared to register a killer blow just before the break with Messi proving the difference via a near-perfect free kick.
Lesser teams would have faltered but Nigeria came back with Musa scoring yet again to make it 2-2.
In the end Argentina edged out the contest, but it didn’t matter – Nigeria had sent out a message and seemingly turned a corner scoring two goals in a World Cup game for just the second time in their last 12 contests.
A tough second round meeting with France awaits but on the basis of Les Bleus’ 0-0 draw with Ecuador, Nigeria’s shouldn’t be dismissed just yet.
Didier Deschamps’ team may have already qualified for the next round top of the group but they still put in a wasteful performance against Ecuador managing nine shots on target with a further seven going wide of the goal.
And this came against an Ecuador team playing with 10 men for 40 minutes following the dismissal of Antonio Valencia.
France may have had little riding on the outcome of this game but with Olivier Giroud, Karim Benzema and Loic Remy all guilty of missing chances, Les Bleus could struggle against a Nigeria side with clean sheets in two of their three group games.
If Stephen Keshi can find a balance between the attack shown against Argentina and the defensive efforts of the previous two fixtures, the 11/2 on a Super Eagles victory in 90 minutes and 3/1 on Nigeria advancing could offer great value.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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