Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli confirmed that he opted not to field his skipper, Messi against the Super Eagles. And it has been suggested that the striker will only feature against World Cup hosts Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow on November 11.
Sampaoli and his national crew hinted that they have decided to allow the Barcelona forward to fly out of Moscow after the first friendly, “to get enough time to rest before returning to club duties.”
And the rest of the Argentina squad will head to Krasnodar, where they will play against Nigeria on November 14.
You would recall that similar scenario happened in Albiceleste’s last international friendlies against Brazil (June 9) and Singapore (June 13), when Messi went the distance against the Seleção but was omitted from the matchday squad against the Asians.
Across all levels, Lionel Messi has faced the Nigerian national teams five times in the past and has scored six goals, including four against the Super Eagles. Meanwhile, Sampaoli has called up Emiliano Insúa to replace Lucas Biglia, who suffered from an inflammation in the patellar tendon of his left knee.
Meanwhile, Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick has hinted that manager Gernot Rohr will start the World Cup qualifier against Algeria on November 10 with his best players.
Although the Super Eagles have already picked the only ticket from group B of the African qualifying series, following the defeat of Zambia in Uyo on 7th October, the country’s football –ruling organ says it is taking the match as a serious matter.
”The temptation is there to rest on oars because we have already qualified. But we would not do that. I am happy the technical crew led by the Technical Adviser has already made it known they would be fielding Nigeria’s best squad on the day,” NFF President Amaju Pinnick told thenff.com.
”The Secretariat must quickly finalize all arrangements. The match in Constantine must be seen as a FIFA World Cup preparation match, just like the one against Argentina in Russia four days later.
”We will go with our best and give our best, to get in the FIFA World Cup mood”.
Assuming the eleven players that stepped out onto the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on October 7 is Nigeria’s ideal starting line-up, Rohr cannot count on the services of Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses, and Elderson Echiejile, while there are doubts about the fitness of Leon Balogun.