The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been drawn for the fifth time against Argentina, 1998 bronze medal winners Croatia and debutants Iceland in Group D of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The draw was held at the Kremlin Palace here in Moscow, Russia on Friday.
According to the draw which was conducted by legends like Diego Maradona, Cafu, Carles Puyol, Gordon Banks and Diego Forlan, the Super Eagles will open their account against Croatia, while Argentina will do battle with Iceland.
Africa’s other representatives Egypt are in Group A with hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.
Senegal are in Group H with Poland, Colombia and Japan, while Morocco are in Group B with Spain, Portugal and Iran, while Tunisia are in Group G with Belgium, England and debutantes Panama.
The opening game of the 2018 World Cup is between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will run from 14 June to 15 July in 11 host cities.
2018 World Cup Groups:
Three-time African champions Nigeria and two–time world champions Argentina will square up in a high–profile international friendly in the Russian city of Krasnodar on Tuesday, 14th November 2017. Venue is the Krasnodar Arena Stadium.
NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, at the weekend said that nearly all arrangements have been concluded, subject to approval by world football ruling body, FIFA and agreeable flight arrangements.
“We have had long and fruitful talks, and we can say that we have an agreement. We await the approval by FIFA and also, we have to agree on the flight arrangements that would be comfortable for the players and crew.
“The match will come up on 14th November, four days after the Super Eagles’ final 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match away to Algeria. We had offers from teams like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Morocco but we have opted for the Argentines,” Sanusi said.
The Eagles take on Algeria’s Fennecs in what is no more than an academic exercise, at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui in Constantine on Friday, 10th November.
Nigeria and Argentina played two high–profile friendly matches in 2011, the first in Abuja in June ending 4-1 in favour of the Super Eagles.
The Albiceleste trumped the second encounter 3-1 in Dhaka, Bangladesh three months later.
NFF’s FIFA Match Agent Jairo Pachon of Eurodata Sport, who also organized the friendly matches with the Argentines in 2011, said, “We are very pleased to be able to deliver such a high –profile game to celebrate the Super Eagles’ 2018 World Cup qualification.
“It was a lot of work over the past week but we are happy this has become reality. We will, in due course, reveal the Nigerian sponsor of the match who will have the match rights in Nigeria.”
While Argentina qualified for Russia on the final day of the South American qualification campaign, the Super Eagles have reached Russia with a match to spare.
Nigeria have had to confront Argentina in four of its previous five FIFA World Cup appearances, starting with a 1-2 defeat in Boston, USA in the African team’s debut in 1994. Argentina won another group phase clash 1-0 in Ibaraki, Japan in 2002, won a similar encounter by the same margin in Johannesburg, South Africa eight years later and then edged the Eagles 3-2 in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2014.
Other famous encounters between both nations include two final matches of the Olympic Men’s Football Tournament – Nigeria edging it in 1996 in America and the Argies winning by the odd goal in China 12 years later.
Argentina will take on World Cup hosts Russia in a friendly on 10th November while the Eagles are playing the Fennecs in Constantine.
The Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Argentina will be fighting for their World Cup live on Tuesday as the South American heavyweights take on Ecuador aiming to avoid a humiliating failure to qualify for next year’s finals in Russia.
With the sight of the football, the world will turn to Quito’s Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa to see if the once unthinkable prospect of a World Cup without Messi is to become a stunning reality.
The two-time World Cup winners head into the final round of South American qualifiers in sixth place, outside the top four positions which grant automatic qualification and trailing fifth-placed Peru, who occupy the playoff spot, on goal difference.
Yet with only two points separating third-placed Chile (26 points) with seventh-placed Paraguay (24), any number of permutations are possible.
Argentina can simplify the equation for their nervous fans, however, if they manage to take all three points in Quito on Tuesday.
A victory would guarantee they finish no worse than fifth place, putting them into a two-legged play-off against New Zealand they would be expected to win.
But winning in the thin air of Quito, which is 2,850 metres (9,350 feet) above sea level, may be easier said than done.
The Argentinians have an abysmal record in away games against Ecuador, with their last victory in Quito coming in 2001.
Since then in World Cup qualifying games, they have been beaten twice, in 2005 and 2009, before scraping a 1-1 draw in 2013.
Barcelona star Messi also has a record of struggling in games at altitude, vomiting on the pitch during a draw in the rarefied air of Bolivia four years ago.
The 30-year-old five-time Ballon D’Or winner also heads into the game knowing that next year’s finals in Russia may be his final chance to emulate Diego Maradona by winning a World Cup.
“A World Cup without Argentina and without Messi would be a catastrophe,” Argentina’s 1978 World Cup hero Mario Kempes said this week.
“The only ones who would be happy if Messi doesn’t go to the World Cup would be Maradona fans.”
The 2014 World Cup finalists face their moment of truth after a series of uninspiring performances that has left the footballing world scratching its head at how a squad bristling with so much attacking talent has found scoring so difficult.
Despite being able to call upon Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria throughout the campaign, Argentina has only scored 16 times in 17 games.
Last Thursday’s 0-0 stalemate with Peru in Buenos Aires was Argentina’s third consecutive draw. The Albiceleste have now scored only once in their last four qualifying games.
For some Argentines, the troubles of the national team have been a long time coming. Sergio Batista, a member of the 1986 World Cup-winning team, was scathing in his assessment.
“Argentina is all at sea. But this didn’t happen recently. It’s the end of a movie I’ve been watching for 10 years,” Batista said.
“I believe in projects and planning, but in our football, there’s nothing. Seven managers in 10 years? And three in a single qualifying campaign? It wouldn’t happen anywhere else.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Chile could seal their qualification with victory over Brazil in Sao Paulo. Brazil has already qualified for the finals and is guaranteed top spot.
Uruguay meanwhile needs only take a point in their home qualifier against already-eliminated Bolivia to be certain of progressing.
One of the most high-stakes games comes in Lima, where Peru will aim to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 1982 when they take on Colombia.
Colombia were moments from qualifying for the World Cup last Thursday before two last-gasp goals from Paraguay turned a 1-0 win into a 2-1 defeat.
That win kept Paraguay’s qualification bid alive and a home win over Venezuela on Tuesday could see them seal their place to Russia depending on results elsewhere.
Source: The Guardian
Argentina struggled to a 1-1 draw with Venezuela here Tuesday which left the South American giants’ 2018 World Cup qualification hopes hanging in the balance.
A second-half own goal from Venezuela defender Rolf Feltscher spared Argentina’s blushes after the visitors had taken the lead through Jhon Murillo.
The result left Argentina in fifth place in the South American standings with 24 points from 16 games.
The top four finishers in the table qualify for next year’s final automatically, while the fifth place team faces a two-leg playoff against New Zealand.
Argentina would still be favorites to progress to Russia past the New Zealanders, but will be taking nothing for granted in their final two qualifiers next month after another disjointed performance.
Venezuela, the bottom of the table and already eliminated from contention, more than held their own for long periods as Argentina struggled to click despite a star-studded line-up spearheaded by Lionel Messi, Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala.
After a lackluster first half display, Venezuela took a deserved lead six-minutes into the second half with a sweeping counter-attack that exposed Argentina.
A flowing move ended when Sergio Cordova threaded a perfect pass through to Murillo who deftly tucked his finish past Manchester United’s Sergio Romero.
However, Argentina got back on level terms three minutes later when substitute Marcos Acuna sprinted down the left before crossing into the six-yard area.
Under pressure from Icardi, Feltscher turned the ball into his own net.
Source: The Guardian
Brazil will play Argentina in an international friendly on June 9 in Australia, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said on Thursday.
“The stage for the game will be the Melbourne Cricket Ground, an arena with a capacity for 100 000 people,” the CBF said.
South America’s two most high profile teams frequently play friendly matches in neutral venues.
Argentina currently top the Fifa rankings, with Brazil in second