The build up to the Nigeria verses Argentina in World Cup 2018 had been tricky for both sides. Argentina, a two-time champion and one-time football superpower had drawn with stubborn minnows Iceland and been thrashed by Croatia. Nigeria, once believed to be ‘Africa’s most likely’ to win this tournament had fared better by losing to the Croatians but seeing off Iceland. Both sets of fans had gone potty on social media (and if you’ve never checked out Nigerian Twitter it is a wonder to behold).
The freakish unpredictability of this World Cup was already present but had not fully imprinted itself on the tournament so all believed that Croatia would finish with another win (which they did). It meant whoever came out on top, the Sky Blues or the Super Eagles, would progress. The knock-out stages beckoned and the stage was set. Argentina were, by some distance, the higher ranked team but Nigeria had beaten them 4 – 2 just seven months earlier in a friendly.
Onto this stage stepped Lionel Messi and made practically everyone who has ever played football look silly. Receiving a looping ball from the heavens, controlling it and slotting it away while a chasing defender flaps uselessly behind him before crashing to the ground.
Nigeria’s journey ended here and Argentina were sent home after their next game (to the eventual winners - France) but what a goal.
Midfield General (ret.)