Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD highlights some interesting facts in matches between these two countries as they face each other in Krasnodar in preparation for the Russia 2018 World Cup...
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have kept only one clean sheet in seven encounters with Argentina. That clean sheet was in 1995 FIFA Confederations Cup. Argentina on their part have kept three clean sheets. In 1995 at the Confederations Cup, and at the 2002 and 2010 FIFA World Cups in South Korea /Japan and South Africa.
2. BRACE HEROES
Only three players have bagged braces in the seven meetings between both teams. At the 1994 FIFA World Cup Claudio Caniggia scored a brace as the Diego Maradona-inspired side came back to win 2-1 after Samson Siasia’s sublime opener at the Foxboro, Boston. Ahmed Musa also scored a brace in Nigeria’s 3-2 loss to Argentina at the Estadio Beira-Rio stadium, in Brazil.
Musa also became the first Nigerian player to score a brace in a World Cup finals match. That same encounter also saw Lionel Messi score a brace to help Argentina finish top of Group F with three wins from three games.
In 1996, Argentina were denied their first Olympic gold medal by Nigeria who defeated them 3-2 in the final of the men’s soccer event in Atlanta. Emmanuel Amuneke scored the winner after goals from Daniel Amokachi and Celestine Babayaro restored parity for Nigeria. Claudio Lopez and Hernan Crespo were on target for Argentina.
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Argentina got their pound of flesh back edging Nigeria by a lone goal in the finals. Angel Di Maria grabbed the winner. Also, in 2005, the Argentine U-20 team defeated their Nigeria 2-1 in the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands.
Both Mikel Obi and Lionel Messi came to limelight in the same 2005 competition, Messi scored six goals to bag the Golden Boot and Golden Ball as Mikel won the Silver Ball.
4. WORLD CUP FAMILIAR FOES
Nigeria have played Argentina more than any team since the Super Eagles made their debut at the FIFA World Cup. At the 1994 World Cup, Nigeria lost 2-1 while at the Korea/ Japan, the Adegboye Onigbinde led Super Eagles scumbled to a 1-0 defeat thanks to Gabriel Batistuta’s header. At the 2010 World Cup Gabriel Heinze’s was the match winner for Argentina while in 2014 Lionel Messi’s brace coupled with the winner from Marcos Rojo ensured Ahmed Musa’s brace counted for nothing in the encouunter.