Johannesburg, Jun 12: The Group B clash between Argentina and Nigeria is going be an intense fight with a war of words already setting the prelude for it.
While Nigerians get set to take on and prove their mettle against the Group B favorites, Argentina, they have quiet a lot of unfavourable factors to battle.
The Nigerian coach Lars Lagerbäck has only been at the helm only since Feb 2010. The team is also missing midfielder John Obi Mikel, who has sustained a knee injury.
Argentina, in a way, has advantages in the form of coach Diego Mardonna and Lionel Messi waiting to unleash his magic in the 19th FIFA World Cup.
For Mardonna, Nigeria is the same force he had to battle 16 years ago in the World Cup. It was his last game before drugs scandal broke out. However, he still has to have quiet a few tricks up his sleeve to take on the Super Eagles team now.
Breaking the world"s best player, Lionel Messi, will be the acid test for Nigerian defence, which will be lead by Joseph Yobo, the lynchpin.
Coming the war of words which has sparked off ahead of the clash, the unpredictable coach Maradona invited some strong statements from the Nigerian captain Nwankwo Kanu by publicly demanding protection for his players.
"We are here to play football," went Kanu's response, "Maradona can say whatever but they cannot change our team pattern or style. It won't be a different match from the others. We are battlers but we will play football. We have to do whatever we have to do to make sure we win. It is not going to be an easy game, we are not going to make it easy for them."
Players to Watch:
Argentina: Leo Messi, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano
Nigeria: Joseph Yobo, Sani Kaita, Nwankwo Kanu
Games played: 3
--Argentina- 2 Wins, 1 Draw
--Nigeria- 0 Wins, 1 Draw
Goals: Argentina 3, Nigeria 1
1994 World Cup, Boston: Argentina 2 Nigeria 1
1995 Confederations Cup, Riyadh: Argentina 0 Nigeria 0
2002 World Cup, Ibaraki: Argentina 1 Nigeria 0