From Mumini Alao in Port Alegre:
“Nigerian players are not footballers. They are gladiators.”
That was the appreciative assessment of an Argentine fan, Sebastian Vicente, after Lionel Messi inspired his country to a 3-2 victory over the Super Eagles in their final Group F match at Porto Alegre on Wednesday. Both sides advanced to the second round from the group.
Complete Sports had asked Vicente to assess the Eagles performance and share with us what
the average Argentine football fan thinks about Nigerian football.
“Nigeria has great players,” said Vincente. “We respect them a lot because they don’t just play like footballers; they play like gladiators.
“When Argentina has to play against South American and European countries, we know what to
expect. Europeans play with organisation while our South American rivals like Brazil, Chile and Uruguay play with skill like us. But with the African teams, you don’t know what to expect because they are not only skillful, they are very strong.”
Vincente enjoys the rivalry that has developed between Argentina and Nigeria over the
“We have played Nigeria many times now in the World Cup and in the Olympics football. We have always managed to win by a narrow margin at the World Cup but the matches are always difficult.
“We also won 1-0 at the 2008 Olympic final. But everybody in Argentina still remembers when Nigeria first beat us in the 1996 Olympic final. That was when we started respecting
Vincente believes Nigeria will beat France in their second round game at the on-going World Cup in Brasilia on Monday.
“Definite, I’m very sure of that,” he said.
“Even against Argentina, you could see that Nigeria gave us a lot of problems. They scored
two goals and the first one was really fantastic. If they play like that again, they will certainly beat France.
“Argentina defeated Nigeria because we had more luck than them in the game. No, it wasn’t
luck that we had, we had Messi. Lionel Messi is the luck of Argentina.”