14 November 2017

Nigeria Versus Argentina in Numbers

Photo: 2010 FIFA OC
A Super Eagles fan displays her support at the match between Argentina and Nigeria in Johannesburg in 2010 (file photo).

Of the football's super powers, the eight countries that have won the World Cup, Argentina is the team Nigeria has met most. Tonight's clash in Krasnodar in Russia will be the eighth time both countries will meet. Five of the previous matches were competitive and Nigeria escaping defeat only once.

Sports Village Square here points out some interesting facts around the clash.

*When Argentina and Nigeria first clashed on June 25, 1994 at Foxborough Stadium in the USA, it produced a milestone goal of 1500th goal in the World Cup history. That was the equalising goal by Argentina's Claudio Caniggia which brought score line to 1-1 after Nigeria had shot ahead through Samson Siasia. Argentina eventually won the match 2-1 through another goal by Caniggia.

*Argentina's world famous Diego Maradona earned the last of his 91caps in a match against Nigeria at the World Cup USA '94.

*Nigeria and Argentina have competed at all levels of men's football - Under-17 in 1993, Under-20 in 2005, Under -23 in 1996 and 2008, Grade A level in 1994, 1995, 2002, 2010, 2011 and 2014.

*The match in Russia today will be the third friendly encounter between both countries. Each winning one apiece. The Krasnodar encounter will therefore be a sort of tie-breaker. The other friendly matches were the 4-1 defeat of Argentina in Abuja on June 1, 2011 and Argentina's 3-1 defeat of Nigeria in Dhaka, Bangladesh on September 6, 2011.

*Results of matches involving Argentina and Nigeria often end with the odd goal: 2-1 in 1994, 1-0 in 2002 and 2010 as well as 3-2 in 2014. The only exceptions are the goalless draw at the 1995 Inter-Continental Cup (now FIFA Confederations Cup) and the friendly matches of 2011.

*By this evening, Argentina and Nigeria would have met at all confederations except the Oceania. They met in CONCACAF region in 1994, Asia Football Confederation region in 1995, 2002 and 2011, CAF territory in 2010 and 2011, CONMEBOL in 2014 and UEFA territory in 2017.

*When Argentina and Nigeria met at Porto Alegre (a Brazilian border town close to Argentina on June 25, 2014), it was the 20th anniversary of their maiden encounter of June 25, 1994.

*Both Nigeria and Argentina put an end to the European countries' domination of the football tournament of the Olympic Games. When Nigeria beat Argentina 3-2 to win the gold medal of the Atlanta '96 football tournament, it was the first time a team outside Europe had won in 68 years. The last European nation standing at Atlanta '96 was Portugal which Argentina eliminated in the semi finals. Since 1996, no European country has won the tournament.

*Both teams are playing for the second time in new strips. Argentina launched their latest adidas-made new shirts in the 1-0 defeat of Russia last Saturday. Nigeria wore a new Nike made shirt in their 1-1 draw with Algeria on Friday. The green shirt won by Nigeria had a darker shade of green on the sleeves and shoulder.

*Nigeria's captain, John Mikel Obi, if fielded, will earn a milestone cap of 80. He will be the fifth Nigerian player to have reached that milestone. Others before him were Muda Lawal (86 caps), Nwankwo Kanu (86 caps), Joseph Yobo (100 caps) and Vincent Enyeama (101 caps). Incidentally, the six of them led the Nigerian teams at one time or the other.

o If Nigeria wins the encounter, Gernot Rohr will join Samson Siasia as the only other coach to have beaten Argentina at Grade A level. Samson Siasia's Super Eagles beat Argentina 4-1 in Abuja on June 1, 2011.

o Samson Siasia scored 18 goals in his 42 matches for Nigeria. One of the goals was against Argentina in 1994. But for another goal he scored against Japan at the 1995 Intercontinental Cup in Saudi Arabia, the goal against Argentina (the 1,499th in World Cup history) would have been his last international goal.

*Ikechukwu Uche and Ahmed Musa are the only Nigerians to have scored two goals in a match against Argentina. Uche achieved his own in the 4-1 defeat of Argentina in 2011 while Musa had a brace in the 2-3 loss to Argentina at the World Cup.

*When Ahmed Musa scored the second goal against Argentina in Porto Alegre at Brazil 2014, he became the first and the only Nigerian footballer to have scored a brace at the World Cup.

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