Three-time African champions Nigeria will face a different test in former FIFA World Cup winners Argentina in Krasnodar, Russia where they meet in an international friendly on Tuesday.
Both nations have already qualified for next year’s World Cup in Russia but this game will afford them the chance to try out fringe players after some of their top stars pulled out of the game for various reasons including injury concerns.
The Argentines had to endure a nervy World Cup qualification in South America to finish in third place behind Brazil and Uruguay compared to their Nigerian opponents who cruised through their group of Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia unbeaten to reach the Mundial.
However the two sides will put the exertion of World Cup qualifying games behind and be assured that this contest starts as their pre-World Cup preparation though a few of their top stars are absent.
Argentina will be without Lionel Messi who opted out and has returned to the Camp Nou to join the FC Barcelona set up ahead of their away game against Leganes in the Spanish La Liga this Saturday.
Despite Messi’s withdrawal, Argentina head coach Jorge Sampaoli will still put out a near strong team with the like of Paulo Dybala, Dario Benedetto, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, Nicolas Otamendi, Diego Perotti and Ever Banega available for the Tuesday warm-up against Nigeria.
A disappointed Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr said at the pre-match conference that he is unhappy that Messi will not be part of the game.
“We are a little disappointed because we would like to play against such a big player (like Messi),” said the Nigeria head coach.
Rohr is expected to ring changes in his playing personnel with Mikel John Obi to start while Daniel Akpeyi will replace Ikechukwu Ezenwa in goal. He is also set to start try out a different tactics from the ones used during the World Cup qualification.
But whichever playing personnel Rohr puts out in this eighth meeting, the Argentines remain favourites despite the absence of their captain and key man Messi.
25 June, 1994: Argentina 2-1 Nigeria (World Cup)
10 January, 1995: Nigeria 0-0 Argentina (FIFA Confederations Cup)
2 June, 2002: Argentina 1-0 Nigeria (World Cup)
12 June, 2010: Argentina 1-0 Nigeria (World Cup)
1 June, 2011: Nigeria 4-1 Argentina (Friendly)
6 September, 2011: Argentina 3-1 Nigeria (Friendly)
25 June, 2014: Nigeria 2-3 Argentina (World Cup)
© The Predictor