• Mikel marks 80th cap with victory
•NFF identifies camping sites for Nigeria
If yesterday’s result is a pointer to what Nigerians should expect at the Russia 2018 World Cup, then Super Eagles’ supporters have nothing to fear. This is so because the team, coached by Franco-German, Gernot Rohr defied bookmakers’ predictions to hit Argentina four times with the Jorge Sampaoli side only able to score twice.
The victory came on a day Nigeria’s skipper, John Mikel Obi played his 80th international game for the Super Eagles.Mikel became the fifth most capped Nigerian international, after Muda Lawal made his 80th appearance on June 16, 1985, Nwankwo Kanu (June 20, 2009), Joseph Yobo (September 3, 2011) and Vincent Enyeama (June 5, 2013).
Incidentally, all those who played before Mikel did not lose matches on their 80th appearance. Muda Lawal on his 80th cap played a goalless draw with Cote d’Ivoire, same for Nwankwo Kanu who played goalless in a World Cup qualifying match with Tunisia to earn his 80th cap.
According to Sports village square, it was even more remarkable for Joseph Yobo when he earned his 80th cap in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on September 3, 2011 Africa Cup of Nations duel, where Nigeria won 2-0 away. On June 5, 2013, Vincent Enyeama made his 80th appearance for Nigeria in Nairobi, Kenya, and Nigeria won the away World Cup qualifier 1-0.
In yesterday’s match in Russia, Arsenal star, Alex Iwobi scored a brace to help the Eagles sink the Argentines, who raced forward with two goals in the first half.
It was Nigeria’s second win against Argentina – and their second in which the Eagles scored four times. Ever Banega and Sergio Aguero had secured what looked like a comfortable lead for Argentina, but Kelechi Iheanacho curled his free kick over the wall and Agustin Marchesin could only help the shot into the top corner in the 44th minutes. Iheanacho teed up with Iwobi to score the third in the 52nd minutes. It was a beautiful placed effort into the bottom-left corner, leaving the Argentine goalkeeper with little chance.
Nigeria came from two down to make it 3-2 in the 54th minute, with new comer, Brian Idowu calmly curling into the corner from Iheanacho’s lay-off. Idowu, 25, is a Russian football player of Nigerian descent.
In the 73rd minutes, Iwobi made it 4-2 for Nigeria. The Arsenal forward shimmied away from Mascherano and finished into the corner for Eagles to celebrate late into the night.
Credit must be given to new goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho who replaced Daniel Akpeyi, after his first-half mistake. Uzoho was properly tested and he responded well. In the 83rd minutes, Argentine dangerman, Benedetto rose to nod on target, but Uzoho was alert to touch the ball over the top.
A total of 22,739 spectators turned to attend the game.While Super Eagles’ supporters fretted over the performance of error-prone goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, youngster, Francis Uzoho reassured them that all is well with his fantastic performance when he came on.
Shortly before the match, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) announced that it has identified two camping/training sites for the Super Eagles at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, saying it has communicated same to world football–governing body, FIFA.
“A final site would be selected out of the two after inspection and approval by the technical crew led by Coach Gernot Rohr. This is in furtherance of our commitment to ensuring there are no issues outstanding that could constitute distraction before the World Cup.
“All plans for the World Cup are on course and a number of high profile preparatory matches have also been agreed, subject to the final draw on December 1. The entire programme would be unveiled after the draw,” NFF Second Vice President, Shehu Dikko said.