BREAKING: Nigeria Draw Argentina, Iceland, Croatia In Group D For 2018 W/Cup
Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been drawn in Group D alongside South America giants and former champions Argentina, Iceland and Croatia ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in a draw held in Russia on Friday.
Nigeria recently defeated the La Albiceleste of Argentina 4-2 in an international friendly in Krasnodar, Russia, venue of the Mundial next year.
Speaking after the outcome of the draw, Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo who was the guest at the Supersport live studio said Nigeria must be at their best to make impact at the tournament next year.
“I don’t think no team at the group is a push over, even as you might think Iceland is we just have to be at our best to come out of the group,” Ighalo said after the groupings at the draw held in Russia.
Group A comprises of hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia, Africa’s representative Egypt and Uruguay. Group B have European champion Portugal, Morocco, Spain and Iran. in the Group C there is France, Australia, Peru and Denmark.
In Group E, there is former world champion Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. In Group F we have Germany, Mexico, Sweden and Korea Republic. In the Group G there is Belgium, Paname, England and another Africa’s representative Tunisia. Group also comprises of Poland, Senegal, Columbia and Japan.
Nigeria played against Argentina in the group phase of the FIFA World Cup in 1994, 2002, 2010 and 2014, losing narrowly on each occasion. The venue was Foxboro Stadium, Boston in 1994 (2-1 Argentina), Ibaraki Arena in 2002 (1-0 Argentina), Ellis Park, Johannesburg in 2010 (1-0 Argentina) and Porto Alegre in 2014 (3-2 Argentina).
However, in a friendly game on Russian soil (Krasnodar) on 14th November (only 17 days ago), the Super Eagles came from two goals down to defeat the two–time world champions 4-2.
Argentina won the FIFA World Cup title in 1978 and 1986, and were losing finalists in Italy in 1990 (lost to Germany courtesy of a late penalty) and in Brazil in 2014 (beaten in extra time by Germany).
In Russia, the Super Eagles’ first match will be against Croatia at the 35,000 –capacity Kaliningrad Stadium on Saturday, 16th June 2018 at 9pm (Kaliningrad time). Zlatko Dalic is coach of Croatia and top stars include Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic. Croatia had to qualify through a play –off, in which they dismissed Greece.
In that country’s first–ever outing at the FIFA World Cup, Croatia surprised all by taking the bronze medals, powered by Davor Suker. But the country has failed to make it out of the group phase in her three appearances in the finals since then. For their second match, Nigeria will fly to Volgograd, where they take on Iceland at the 45,000 –capacity Volgograd Arena on Friday, 22nd June 2018. Time is 6pm.
Iceland is making a first appearance at the FIFA World Cup, and is the smallest country ever to qualify for the finals. The country has a population of 335,000. Iceland shocked the whole of Europe last year summer, reaching the quarter –finals of the European Championship in France. Heimir Hallgrimsson is coach and star player is Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Iceland were actually in the same European qualifying group with Croatia, and topped the pool to condemn the Croatians to a play–off against Greece. Nigeria’s final group phase game is against Argentina on Tuesday, 26th June 2018 and the venue is the 68,000 capacity Saint Petersburg Stadium, the second biggest venue at the finals. Time is 9pm, same time that Croatia and Iceland will be battling at the Rostov Arena.
The opening match of Russia 2018 will be between Russia and Saudi Arabia, starting 6pm at the 81,000 –capacity Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow–the venue that will also host the Final Match on 15th July 2018. All the 32 qualified countries are expected to intensify preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup which kicks-off in Russia next year.
NIGERIA’S RUSSIA 2018 GROUP MATCHES:
Croatia Vs Nigeria (Kaliningrad Stadium, 16th June, 9pm)
Nigeria Vs Iceland (Volgograd Arena, 22nd June, 6pm)
Nigeria Vs Argentina (Saint Petersburg Stadium, 26th June, 9pm)
ALL THE GROUPS