By Salifu Usman, Abuja
Nigeria’s Super Eagles face their Argentine counterparts in a high profile friendly tie today at the Krasnodar Stadium in Russia.
The South American giant will be without their super star, Lionel Messi as the soccer icon withdrew from the squad after La Albiceleste 1-0 victory in Moscow at the weekend.
Nigeria dominated Group B in CAF qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, topping the standings ahead of Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria.
Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr said his side decided to play the former world champions in Russia to see the European nation before returning to the country for the 2018 World Cup.
‘’Why do we hold a friendly game here in Russia? It turned out that the last match against Algeria in the qualifying tournament for the World Cup was held when we already qualified,’’ Rohr told Sport Express Russia.
‘’It turned out that we were looking for who would play the second match. It was possible to play in Russia against Argentina.
‘’It is important for us to see how everything is arranged here before coming to Russia in 2018.’’
Nigeria come into the game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Algeria in their last World Cup qualifying – a game that they did not need to win, having already booked their place in Russia next summer. This will be their first game against a non-African side since they played Luxembourg in May last year.
The Super Eagles shocked African football fans by skipping past Cameroon, Zambia and Algeria, who could only record one victory between themselves in Group B.
Nigeria scored 12 goals in their six qualification games, and their detractors had no answer as they progressed in style.
Argentina will be a different kind of prospect for the Africans, but with Messi out of the friendly, there could be a shock in Krasnodar.
The South Americans have been hugely inconsistent in the past 12 months and have appeared short of inspiration during Messi’s absences.
Aguero remains in good form, but Argentina will need to do better in the final third if they are to make short work of the Nigerian threat.