Former Nigerian star footballer, Chief Segun Odegbami, is among the ex internationals here in Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He met the Super Eagles to motivate them before the second game against Iceland which has now revived the nationâ€™s hope of a second round berth. â€˜Mathematicalâ€™ as heâ€™s fondly called, has been providing useful insights into how Eagles can make the dream of qualifying to the next round a reality.
Yesterday, he spoke again, about Nigeriaâ€™s next must win or burst Group D match against Argentina here at the St Petersburg Stadium. Excerpts…
â€œIt isÂ Sunday morningÂ in St. Petersburg. The mood around Park Inn Hotel is different today. It is very much like the weather here since yesterday – chilly and sombre. The celebrations of the victory over Iceland are over. No one is even talking about it anymore. Tension has started to build up for the Argentine encounter on Tuesday.
â€œOne of the State FA chairmen came to me at breakfast this morning and asked me seriously if I thought Nigeria would win the next match. He reminded me that I assured everyone the Eagles would defeat Iceland.
â€œIt will be very arrogant of me to claim any kind of pre-knowledge of anything at all, least of all the result of aÂ football match of this magnitude and at this level. I simply told him my feeling: that the match against Argentina is likely to be Nigeria’s best match so far.
â€œThe Nigerian team is settling down. Although, it will be a very difficult match for both teams particularly because Argentina needs an outright win to start to redeem their battered image.
â€œRemember they were one of the pre-competition favourites, and now this catastrophe. It has been a disastrous World Cup for them so far and they will throw everything at the Super Eagles to steady their wobbling and sinking ship.
â€œSo, we have a battle on our hands. But that’s what also gives meÂ confidence – they will mÃ ke mistakes in their rear as they attack ceaselessly, and our running forwards will, therefore, find space to inflict maximum damage. â€œThereÂ could be a many goals in this match as I play it in my head through 90 minutes, I cannot see how Argentina will go stop the Eagles this time without tears, sweat and blood.
â€œAll the Eagles need is to play deliberately, constructively and intelligently for 90 minutes. Not giving away anything as a ‘gift’ to Argentina.
â€œOn the strength of which is the better of the two teams presently,Â the Super Eagles have an edge and will win! Forget about the big names, including Messi, and consider the teams.Â I am looking forward to meeting up with the players againÂ when they arrive in St. Petersburg later tonight (last night).