Nigeria bids for a place in the knock-out stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a dicey fixture against former World Champions and Group leader, Argentina on Wednesday, June 25 which incidentally is also the birthday of President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Alhaji Aminu Maigari. A statement by Ademola Olajire, the NFF Spokesman quoted the NFF boss as charging the Super Eagles to present him the qualification ticket as a birthday gift.
Maigari Spoke in Sao Paulo on Monday and enthused that he would be most delighted with a favourable outcome on the match-day to celebrate his birthday.
“My birthday is on the day we are playing Argentina, and I would feel very special if we defeat the Argentines. But more than that, a place in the Round of 16 at this World Cup finals would bring joy to the entire NFF delegation and the good people of Nigeria back home.
“We have so many reasons to go all out on Wednesday. The Argentines have always beaten us at the FIFA World Cup, though narrowly each time. We also need to show our true strength as the champions of Africa,” Maigari said.
Victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina took the African champions to second place in the pool with four points, but they must still avoid defeat against the two –time world champions in Porto Alegre to be certain of a place in the knock –out stages.
Nigeria lost 1-2 to Argentina in Boston, USA on June 25, 1994, and were then pipped 1-0 courtesy of a Gabriel Batistuta goal in Ibaraki, Japan on June 2, 2002. When both sides met in South Africa four years ago, an early goal by Gabriel Heinze condemned the Eagles to a 1-0 defeat.
However, Nigerians retain sweet memories of the 4-1 defeat the Eagles handed to Argentina in a friendly in Abuja on June 1, 2011, and a step down the ladder, the U-23 team edged Argentina 3-2 to claim Africa’s first Olympic football gold, in Atlanta 18 years ago.
“It will not be easy, but then, we did not come here thinking any match would be easy. One philosopher once said that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
“Our commitment is to continue to pump up the spirit of the players so that they will get better as we move ahead in the tournament. With the win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, we have now reclaimed our winning mentality and it would be difficult to stop the Eagles flying all the way,” stated Maigari.