World Cup: Argentina on the brink, Super Eagles remain on course

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World Cup: Argentina on the brink, Super Eagles remain on course

World Cup: Argentina on the brink, Super Eagles remain on course

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World Cup: Argentina on the brink, Super Eagles remain on course

World Cup: Argentina on the brink, Super Eagles remain on course

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Super Eagles soar

Nigeria remain on course to qualify for a third successive World Cup, a feat they have achieved only once before in their history.

Currently sitting top of Group B, a home victory against nearest rivals Zambia — who sit just three points behind — would guarantee qualification to Russia 2018.

In the same group, meanwhile, Algeria — who impressed at the 2014 World Cup and almost knocked out eventual champions Germany — are bottom with one point from four games, prompting fans to ask: how did it all go so wrong?

In Group E, neutral’s favorites Uganda are still in with a chance of qualifying for a first ever World Cup. The Cranes, under Serbian coach Milutin Sredojević, reached the Africa Cup of Nations in 2016 for the first time in almost 40 years.

Though they were eliminated in the group stages, the country has carried that momentum forward and sits in second place behind powerhouses Egypt, despite unrest in the Ugandan FA.

Sredojević terminated his contract in July over unpaid wages — though the FA insist the $54,000 he is owed will be paid — and local coaches Moses Basena and Fred Kajoba were brought in to lead the team through qualifying.

World Cup: Argentina on the brink, Super Eagles remain on course

Argentina on the brink

So accustomed to relentless success with Barcelona over the years, Lionel Messi has been made to suffer on the international stage with Argentina.

On the end of three successive defeats in major finals — World Cup 2014, Copa America 2015 and Copa America 2016 — doubts continue to linger about Messi’s ability to produce on the international stage.

The third of those losses — and the second in two years against Chile — caused Messi to announce his retirement from international football, though he did promptly reverse his decision in an attempt to help a struggling Argentina qualify for the World Cup.

His return, however, didn’t spark a slumbering Albiceleste to life. Soon after a man of the match display in his first game back — a 3-0 win over Colombia which proved to be a false dawn — Messi led the national team in a boycott of the Argentine media.

A few months later, in a home victory over Chile, Messi was banned for four games for verbally abusing an assistant referee, though that ban was overturned after the Barcelona star had already served one match of the suspension.

It’s a sign of the instability of the Argentina team that it’s had three coaches during these qualifiers.

Gerardo Martino, who led Argentina to successive Copa America final defeats, was succeeded by Edgardo Bauza.

A string of poor results, coupled with Jorge Sampaoli’s availability at the end of the season with Sevilla, saw Bauza leave his post and finally allow the 57-year-old former Chile coach to take his dream job.

Argentina’s remaining make or break fixtures come at home to Peru, South America’s in-form side, and away to Ecuador in the altitude of Quito.

Thursday’s match against Peru will be played at Boca Juniors’ Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires rather than their traditional venue of the Monumental stadium, which is home to Boca’s rivals River Plate.

The Bombonera is famed for its raucous atmosphere, though it was also where Peru drew 2-2 with Argentina in a World Cup qualifier in 1969 to ensure the Albiceleste wouldn’t go to the 1970 tournament.

I never saw such disappointment in a dressing room; several of my team-mates were crying and Adolfo Pedernera [Argentina’s coach] was sat silently in a corner smoking,” Argentine player Alberto Rendo, told FIFA.com.

World Cup 2018, Argentina, Nigeria super eagles, World Cup 2018 Qualifiers,

Dare Gbadebo

Author: Dare Gbadebo is the publisher with the trademark darebaba.net is a versatile writer who had his media training based on photography at PEFTI film institute and has written for many top media houses in Nigeria. Stay tuned for your favourite celebrity news political updates and paparazzi. Darebaba on social media Facebook | Instagram | Google+

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