Nigeria were yesterday handed what could be termed a soft group after they were drawn against former World Cup Champions Argentina hoping to inspired by mercurial and skillful Lionel Messi with former African player of the year winner, Victor Ikpeba calling on the Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi to work hard on the team.
Drawn in number four of the group, the Eagles will open their World Cup account with a match against Asians, Iran on June 16, 2014 in the Brazilian city of Curitiba inside the 41,000 capacity Estadio Joaquim Americo better known as Arena de Baixada.
According to Ikpeba, “Argentina are favoured to top the group because of their pedigree in footbakl with a player like Lionel Messi. Nigeria will come second but Keshi needs to work hard to contain the stubborn Bosnia Herzegovina and Iran,” he said, adding that “It is a good draw for Nigeria.”
Despite rating the Argentines highly, Ikpeba who would be remembered to have missed his penalty in the 2000 Nations Cup co-hosted by Nigeria and Ghana stressed that “ If we work hard on our team, we could take the game to the Argentines.”
Nigeria was in pot two alongside Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana,Chile and Ecuador and fans of the Super Eagles were all hoping for the best possible draw .
Joining Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke to assist with the draw were a host of legends: Uruguay’s 1950 World Cup winner Alcides Ghiggia, England’s 1966 hero Geoff Hurst, former Brazil captain Cafu, Italy’s Fabio Cannavaro, Argentina’s Mario Kempes, Spain’s Fernando Hierro, France’s Zinedine Zidane and German great Lothar Matthaus.
It will be the fourth time Nigeria and Argentina will be clashing in the group stages of the World Cup finals.
The two nations both clashed in 1994 when Claudio Canniggia scored a brace to condemn the Super Eagles to a 2-1 defeat.
In 2002, Gabriel Batistuta scored a brace to sink the Africans while Gabriel Heinze netted a solitary effort as Argentina won again at the expense of Nigeria in 2010.
Nigeria will also face Bosnia and Iran in the group.
Hosts Brazil are in Group A alongside Croatia, Cameroun and Mexico while champions, Spain square off in Group B alongside the Netherlands, Australia and Chile.