By Kayode Ogundare:
Super Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has warned that the team should not let the fear of Lionel Messi distract them from keeping an eye on other dangerous players in the Argentina team, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Messi scored against Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup and was in the winning side against the Super Eagles in 2010. The Barcelona superstar also led Argentina to beat Nigeria at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2005 and the Olympics in 2008.
“I’m not sure I agree with the idea of trying to stop Messi,” Ndidi, who is back in Super Eagles training after copping a hamstring injury with Leicester City, told CSN in Uyo.
“We know how important he is for their team but if we try too hard to stop him, we could be allowing the other players to get past us to score.
“Besides, if we try too hard to stop Messi, he could draw fouls in very deep areas around our 18-yard box and you know how dangerous he can be with free-kicks from that distance. He did it against us in 2014, I think. So, rather than try to stop Messi, we should work on a plan to shut out the whole Argentina team.”
Ndidi also gave his opinion about Nigeria’s World Cup group foes and the prospect of facing Argentina, Croatia and Iceland.
“We are in the toughest group in the World Cup because of the calibre of teams in Group D,” the former Genk star added in an exclusive interview with CSN.
“Argentina and their superstar players are well known to us and we also know the quality of the Croatian team. We must however not underrate Iceland.
“Apart from what they did at the European Championships in France in 2016, we should also consider the manner of their qualification for the World Cup. They beat Croatia to win their qualifying group and this tells me they will be a very difficult side to play.
“I noticed the focus on Argentina but I think we should pay equal attention to all our group opponents. Each game is three points so if we focus our energy on Argentina and beat them but lost to the other two teams then we are not going anywhere. The first game is very important. We must try to win it because it will help to position us well in the group if we do.”