Super Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr has promised that his players will show a high level of mental alertness, stability and strength in Tuesday’s match against Argentina, as he admits they need total concentration for all 90 minutes of the game.
The Franco-German gaffer acknowledged that the game in Saint-Petersburg, Russia will be tough, hence his verdict that the Nigerian players have to be prepared on the highest mental level to face whatever conditions come against them tactically and physically.
The Eagles, who came from two goals down to defeat Argentina in a friendly in November 14, 2017 in Krasnodar, Russia, will take on their familiar foes in their last Group D game at St. Petersburg Stadium.
In five previous appearances, the Eagles have played Argentina in the group phase on four occasions, and it was only in France 1998 that both teams were in different pools, while Nigeria did not qualify for Germany 2006.
Argentina have been Nigeria’s perennial Nemesis at the FIFA World Cup, having won all four of their clashes, though narrowly with single goal differences in all.
Eagles’ current captain, John Mikel Obi, Kenneth Omeruo, Eddy Ogenyi Onazi, Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses were in the Nigerian squad that lost 3-2 the last time out between these two reams in Porto Alegre, Brazil on June 25, 2014.
However, while bookmakers would be quick to emphasize the gulf in class, Argentina won the last of their two World Cups 32 years ago, and current form does not favour them.
In Russia, their opening 1-1 draw with Iceland was followed by a stunning 3-0 lashing by Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod, meaning the Eagles and La Albiceleste arrive the 67,000 –capacity Zenit Arena on Tuesday via different trajectories.
Incidentally, Nigeria’s players are presented with fewer days to prepare for the game against the South Americans than they had for the second match against Iceland following the opener against Croatia. There were five days to get ready for Iceland after the loss to Croatia but three days to prepare for Argentina after the win over Iceland.
The Eagles returned to their Sanatorium Istochnik Hotel camp in Essentuki on Saturday, but were off to Saint-Petersburg on Sunday night, in order to quickly settle down to the new environment and prepare for Tuesday’s match.
Rohr then stressed that the Eagles must be on the attack against Argentina until the last whistle, in order to take the chances that come their way against the South Americans.
He said: “It will be a tough game and we must go with a tough mentality from the start to the end. Simply put, we must take even half chances, and be on the offensive as much as possible.
“Perhaps, a draw could be good to qualify, but we cannot think and play for a draw. Sometimes, when you play for a draw, you get punched in the face late in the day.”