Festus Abu, Saint Petersburg
KelechiIheanacho and Leon Balogun have sounded the battle cry to their Super Eagles teammates telling them they must play at full throttle in Tuesday’s match against crisis-ridden Argentina in Saint Petersburg to realise their dreams of reaching the second round of the 2018 World Cup.
Ahmed Musa’s classy brace in the Super Eagles’ 2-0 defeat of World Cup debutants Iceland in Volgograd on Friday gave a below-par Lionel Messi-led La Albiceleste, who were on the verge of exit from Russia 2018, a lifeline.
Two-time world champions Argentina, who were humiliated by Croatia 3-0, are desperate for victory over Nigeria at Saint Petersburg Stadium to avoid an early return home.
Twenty-five-year-old Musa, whose Instagram followers increased by 70 per cent since his goals revived the Eagles’ World Cup hopes after their opening defeat to Croatia, will again be the focus in the encounter.
Leicester City forward Iheanacho, who started in Gernot Rohr’s 3-5-2 formation with Musa against Iceland, warned his colleagues not to take chances in Tuesday’s clash.
“The win against Iceland is going to be a boost for us to play Argentina,” the UAE 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup winner said ahead of the Saint Petersburg match.
The former Manchester City player warned his teammates they must not take their eyes off Messi despite his poor form in the tournament.
“I like Messi but against us I hope he stays quiet,” the 21-year-old said.
New Brighton defender Balogun echoed his teammate’s thoughts, saying they should stop Messi from producing moments of individual magic in the encounter.
The 29-year-old former Mainz player said, “We have learnt to play more patiently, and have confidence in ourselves. We have to close all the passes to Messi to leave him out of the game.”
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