For the fifth time, Nigeria was yesterday drawn against Argentina in a group for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They will also face Iceland and Croatia in Group D.
There are some intriguing stories coming out of the Final Draw after its conclusion with Nigeria facing Argentina yet again. There seems to be no easy group, checking with Groups A – H, each group is equipped with top teams from all across the continents. Argentina and Nigeria meet again in the group stages, as they did in 1994, 2002, 2010 and 2014. The only time Nigeria avoided Argentina in the World Cup was in 1998 in France. In 1994, Nigeria was pitted against Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece. The opening match was against Bulgaria which the Super Eagles won 3-0 with late Rashidi Yekini scoring the country’s first ever World Cup goal. They topped the group despite losing 1-0 to Argentina because they also beat Greece 2-0 to garner six points. In 1998, they were drawn again against Bulgaria,Spain and Paraguay, winning two matches, 3-2 against Spain, 1-0 against Bulgaria and lost 1-3 to Paraguay. They however, lost woefully in the round of 16, 1-4 to Paraguay. In 2002, the Eagles were for the second time drawn against Argentina who beat them 1-0, they lost to Sweden 1-2 and drew 0-0 against England. They failed to go beyond the group stage like it happened in 2010 in South Africa were they got their third pairing with Argentina alongside South Korean and Greece. They lost 0-1 to Argentina, 1-2 to Greece and drew 2-2 with South Korea. The experience in the 2014 edition in Brazil was like 1994 and 1998 were they were able to get out of the group but failed to go beyond the round of 16. That year they were drawn again against Argentina, the fourth time in the World Cup, Bosnia Herzegovina and Iran. They lost 2-3 to Argentina, drew 0-0 with Iran and beat Bosnia Herzegovina 1-0 to move into the round of 16. Following the protest on match bonuses, the team lost concentration in the round of 16 and lost to France 0-2. Nigeria will play first against Croatia in the first ever Senior international match, while the smallest Nation ever to qualify for a World Cup, Iceland will play against Nigeria also in Group D. The Icelanders, the only newcomers, will play two-time winners Argentina in their first World Cup finals match. The Eagles last group match will be against Argentina who have turned their World Cup nemesis.