By Alphonsus E.W
The Super Eagles of Nigeria were this evening in the Brazilian coastal city of Bahia drawn in the same group with World Cup favourites, Argentina. Bosnia and Iran are the other teams in the group.
The African Champions, who were pitted with the two-time world champions in Group F would play their opening match against Iran on Monday June 16 in Curitiba and this would be the third time that the Eagles would be drawn into the same group with the Albiceleste. In USA’94, the then African Champions were drawn in the same pool with Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece. The Eagles went ahead to top the group after beating Greece and Bulgaria but lost to a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina.
8 years after, at Korea Japan 2002, the duo was again drawn in the same pool with England and Sweden, a group dubbed ‘the Group Of Death’. Nigeria was dumped out in the first round after losing to Argentina and Sweden and drawing with England.
In South Africa 2010, the familiar foes met again and the game was memorable for Vincent Enyeama’s heroics as he single-handedly withstood Lionel Messi from scoring a hatful of goals, maintaining a respectable 1-0 scoreline.
Curiously though, Argentina has never progressed far in the competition whenever they were pitted in the same group with the plucky and dangerous West Africans. In 1994, they lost in the second round to Romania 3-2 after Diego Maradona had been sent home for taking banned substances. In 2002, they surprisingly were eliminated in the first round after losing to England 1-0 and drawing 1-1 with Sweden. In 2010, they were outclassed 4-1 by a ruthless German team in the Quarter-Final.
As a side note, interestingly, Nigeria has a fair chance of going far in the tournament because they are able to make it out of the group stage, they are billed to meet any of Switzerland, Ecuador, France or Honduras, by far the easiest group in the tournament. Is it celebration time for Nigeria? May be not only hard work, focus and commitment will bring on the celebrations. Here is the full list of the groups.
- Ivory Coast
- Costa Rica
- Korea Republic