The former Kano Pillars winger has revealed that the Eagles harbour no fear over their World Cup group stage meeting with Argentina.

Nigeria were drawn in Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and Argentina and ahead of the meeting with the latter billed for June 26 at the Saint Petersburg Stadium, Ahmed Musa in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com said the Eagles are not petrified by the quality of the Albiceleste of Argentina and that of other countries that will be at the World Cup.

Musa scored a brace when the two sides (Nigeria and Argentina) in Brazil but a Lionel Messi’s brace and a goal from Marcus Rojo ensured the Albiceleste maintained their winning records over Nigeria – making it four wins in four meetings at the Mundial.


Musa celebrating his second goal against Argentina at the 2014 World Cup (Getty Image)

According to him, Eagles’ failure to book a place at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations motivated the Eagles during the qualifying series and the team is well prepared to face any team at the World Cup.

“When we realised we weren’t going to make it to the Africa Cup of Nations (last year), we decided that we were going to fight for the people of Nigeria.

“It doesn’t matter who we come up against; we’ll be giving it our best shot at the World Cup.

“We’ll be trying our hardest in every match, no matter the opposition.”

He added, “We need to set our sights high. Nigeria want to do more than just get pass the group phase.

“We want to make the quarter-finals and even the semis. Why not.”

The winger who has been warned by Gernot Rohr to look for a new club to be in a good position to make the World Cup squad has been reported to have agreed a temporary deal to leave Leicester City to join former club CSKA Moscow till the end of the season.

Musa spent four seasons with CSKA Moscow – scoring 53 goals in 169 appearances for the Russian based club.


(Getty image)

He expressed hopes of making his second appearance at the World Cup – describing the World as a very important event.

“I hope I get selected. The World Cup is a vey important event for any player,” he concluded.

 

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The Argentine captain has thrown a jibe at Nigeria ahead of their 2018 World Cup group stage meeting – saying he doubts the 2013 African champion on the biggest stage.

Argentina and Nigeria will lock horns once again - with the two sides having had to face each other in the group stage of the World Cup for the fourth time in the last five-edition of the Mundial.

In 2006, in which the two sides did not face each other, Nigeria failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Of the four group stage meetings since 2002, Nigeria had failed to pick a point - as Argentina emerged winners on the four occasions. 

Meanwhile, Nigeria defeated Argentina by 4-1 in a friendly match in 2011 and defeated the Albiceleste by 4-2 in another friendly played last month.

Speaking in an interview with fifa.com, The Barcelona forward believes the Super Eagles’ 4-2 win over his side last month won’t count in their group stage encounter next year.

On facing Nigeria next year, Messi said, “Nigeria one day they score four goals, the next one, they leave plenty spaces for you to do anything.”

Read also: MESSI: I HOPE FOOTBALL REPAYS ITS DEBT TO ME

On facing the other group opponents Messi added: (Iceland) "might seem easy, but they are tough and well organised on defence.

 (Croatia) “They give you more room to play, but have great players.”

 

 

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Messi: I hope football repays its debt to me

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:41

The Argentine has revealed that he still bears the sad memory of losing the 2014 World Cup but hopes Russia 2018 brings good tidings for him.

The Barcelona forward led a team of Argentine players that had lost three cup finals – 2014 World Cup final lost to Germany and back to back Copa America final lost to Chile.

The five-time Ballon D’or winner was instrumental for his country, who almost missed the chance of qualifying for Russia 2018 – scoring three goals against Ecuador.

After Argentina 3-0 win of Ecuador, head coach, Jorge Sampaoli said that “football owes Messi a World cup.

When Messi was asked to comment on his coach assertion that football owes him a World Cup in an exclusive interview with fifa.com, the Argentine captain laughingly agreed with his coach.

”Yes, I did hear it, and he said it to me too. I hope football does end up paying me! (laughs).”

Read also BARCA TO CR7 – THE BEST IN HISTORY OF FOOTBALL IS AT CAMP NOU

When asked whether if he was going to win the World Cup, come next year, the Argentine captain replied “I’ll be a father for the third time!.”

 

 

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I’m happy sitting on the bench – Messi

Thursday, 07 December 2017 20:02

The five-time Ballon D’or winner has revealed that he has no problem sitting on the bench – claiming the season is long.

Ernesto Valverde has been famous for his squad rotation pattern since he took over the Blaugrana’s job and Messi as well fallen in the bracket of rotated players – something unheard of before Valverde took over at the Camp nou.

The Argentine captain, who has found himself on the substitute bench in Barcelona’s last two Champions League match said his body paid the price for playing too many matches.

"I have learned that the season is long,” Messi, as quoted by marca.

That there are times which are harder than others because the years fly by and now my body pays the price for playing in so many matches.

"I realised that sometimes not playing is for the best.

On whether the Barcelona forward would like to return to his homeland to end his career, he revealed that the security concerns in his home country would be a hindrance.

"I've said many times that my dream is to play at Newell's but I don't know what will happen, and a part of that doubt is due to the way the country is at the moment," he added.

"I have a family and my children come first, and then me. I want them to grow up in a calm place, being able to enjoy life with security.

"It is very ugly to see the things that happen in Argentina, that you can go out on the street and people want to rob you and that they can kill you."

 

 

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The 2013 African champion has been grouped together with the Albiceleste of Argentina for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

 The two sides were in the same group at the 2002, 2010, and 2014 World Cup – with the Argentines coming victorious on the three occasions.

Nigeria, who defeated Argentina 4-2 in a friendly match in Russia last month were placed in Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and Argentina.

The Super Eagles will be playing Argentina last in the group as they will need to slug it out first with Croatia, followed by Iceland

Meanwhile, another African representative at the World Cup, Egypt will battle host Russia, Saudi Arabia and maiden champion of the World Cup, Uruguay as they were all placed in Group A.

2010 World Cup winner Spain will do battle with European Champion, Portugal, Iran and Morocco.

Full group:

Group A

Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

 

 Group B

Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

 

Group c

France, Peru, Australia, Denmark

 

Group D

Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

 

Group E

Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

 

Group F

Germany, Mexico, Korea Republic, Sweeden

 

Group G

Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

 

Group H

Poland , Senegal, Japan, Colombia

 

 

 

 

 

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Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic just returned to the Man United first team squad last two weeks after both sustaining injury in a Europa League encounter against Anderlecht in April.

The defender revealed that he and Ibrahimovic err at times by killing each other with kicks in training.

According to the defender, Coach Jose Mourinho has even demanded they desist from the act to avoid injuries.

Rojo, as quoted by Marca: “Mournho always tell us to play calmly in practice because, with Ibrahimovic we kill each other with kicks.

“He’s always happy and close to the players. He helped me a lot, he got the best out of me."

Read also: Ferdinand: Winning Obsession Made Me Dislike Youth Friend, Lampard

The Argentine went further to describe Ibrahimovic as an ‘amazing character’ and believes people who don’t know the Sweedish forward held wrong perception of him.

Rojo added, “He’s an amazing character but for those who don’t know him, he seems big-headed.

“He’s a phenomenon, he’s a beast who goes forward and wants to win everything.”

 Rojo also revealed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic who called an end to his international career after Euro 2016, is unwilling to return for his country for the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.

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He knows he is well loved by the Nigerian public, his mistakes will be forgiven hence he plays with freedom.

Former Super Eagles and Chelsea defender believes Alex Iwobi dip in form for Arsenal was as a result of a perceived unlikeness from the North London side’s fans.

The 21-year-old Iwobi, who broke into the Arsenal’s first team in 2015 has been subject of attack from the Gunners’ fans with many believing he is not good enough for the club.

Iwobi scored the goal that saw Nigeria became the first country from Africa to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia. The 21-year-old also inspired the Super Eagles to a 4-2 win over the Albiceleste of Argentina on Tuesday at the Krasnodar Stadium – registering two goals and one assist.  

Babayaro posited that his dip in form was as a result of lack of confident whenever Iwobi dons the Arsenal Jersey.

According to the former Chelsea and Newcastle defender, for Arsenal to get the best from Iwobi, the fans need to get behind him.

Babayaro, as quoted by SportingLife: It’s clear to see why Iwobi plays so well when he plays for Nigeria and not that exceptional when he plays for Arsenal. He knows he is well loved by the Nigerian public, his mistakes will be forgiven hence he plays with freedom.

“You can’t say the same when he plays for Arsenal: He is the target of boo boys.

“They speak long and hard about his mistakes than his strong points. Naturally that puts him under pressure and also limits his efficiency.

“When he plays for Nigeria, the fans chant his name. They sing in his name, he feels the connection to them. He feels at home and inspired to do wonders with love.

Read also: Argentina is one the Highly Ranked Football Associations in Nigeria – Dalung

Akpeyi to Get Second Chance

Meanwhile a source closed to owngoalnigeria.com has revealed Daniel Akpeyi is still in Gernot Rohr’s plans.

Akpeyi’s display in his last two games for Nigeria has led to fans calling for him to be dropped from the National team but the source largely believes the Chippa United of South Africa shot stopper is still part of the team ahead of next year’s World Cup

“As for Akpeyi, let me say he’s not out of the frame yet, the source said. “Surprising right? But I suppose with the goalkeeping problem, he is not keen to cut any one loose yet.

Former super Eagles goalkeeper, Peter Rufai also echoed Rohr’s position. The 54-year old ex-international believes that Akpeyi’s mistakes against Argentina should not be an hindrance in the bid for a place in the national team ahead of the World Cup.  

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Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Honorable Solomon Dalung has referred to Argentina as a top ranked football association in Nigeria.

You read that well. You weren’t the confused one, neither me – Dalung, the Sports Minister of the country described to be the giant of Africa has decided to throw the entire world into another realm of confusion.

Read also: Babayaro on Iwobi - He Plays Better for Nigeria, Arsenal fans dislike Him

In a video shared on twitter by Oluwasshina Okeleji, @oluwashina on twitter, the controversial minister was caught to have called Argentina, a football association in Nigeria.

Dalung’s comments in the video were believed to have been aftermath of the Super Eagles of Nigeria 4-2 humbling of the Albiceleste at the Krasnodar stadium, Russia on Tuesday.

Dalung said, “… Argentina is one of the highly ranked football association in Nigerias.”

What Dalung meant by referring to Argentina as top ranked football association in Nigeria is vague  to almost everybody -  at least, for now. But all fingers crossed till the Argentina FA comes out to disregard misrepresentation that will go down as one of the greatests of all time.

Read also:Nwakaeme, Iheanacho, and Shaky Goalies: Talking Points from Nigeria’s Latest Internationals
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Javier Mascherano has revealed that Argentina 4-2 lost to Nigeria yesterday at the Krasnodar stadium was as a result of the Albiceleste inability to curtail the Super Eagles’ physical strength.

Two first goals from Ever Banega and Sergio Aguero put the Sampaoli’s men ahead but a wonderful free-kick by Kelechi Iheanacho on the stroke of half-time reduced the deficit for a Nigerian side that later ran riot on the Argentines in the second half.

A brace from Alex Iwobi, and a goal from debutant, Brian Idowu in the second ensured the Eagles recorded their second victory against the Albiceleste.

 

With many attributing the reason for the Argentine’s lost yesterday to the absence of captain, Lionel Messi who was excused for the match, stand-in captain, Mascherano on his side, believes they paid dearly for undermining the strength of the Gernot Rohr boys.

Mascherano said: “playing against a team of such physical strength you pay the price. They walked all over us, and we tried to get back but we couldn’t.

Meanwhile, Gernot Rohr has dismissed talks that Super Eagles should be counted amongst favorites for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

 

Read also: Nwakaeme, Iheanacho, and Shaky Goalies: Talking Points from Nigeria’s Latest Internationals

The Franco-German said the team will remain as they still have more wore works to do.

“It’s a good victory for us but it doesn’t mean we’ve become favorites to win the World Cup, Rohr said.

“We stay humble and realize we have more work to do. We prepared well for this game because playing Argentina is big for us, maybe it is different for them.”

The game against Argentina yesterday was Rohr’s 12th game in charge of the Super Eagles. The former Burkina Faso manager has seven wins, four draws and one loss to his name since he took over the 2013 African Champions' job 

 

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