Eagles will stop Messi, say Keshi, Enyeama
•Three ex-champions out
Eagles coach Stephen Keshi said yesterday that his side will play for a win in today’s last group game against Argentina in Porto Alegre.
The Super Eagles need just a point to reach the second round for the first time in 16 years. However, a defeat will see them through if Iran fails to beat Bosnia in the other encounter.
Expected to garner support from Brazilians against their arch-rivals who expect 80,000 supporters from across the border, the 51-year-oldsaid his boys will not be intimidated by the predominant support base that Porto Alegre will offer to the Albiceleste.
“We’re here to play, if we have the support of the Brazilians we will appreciate it. But we are not looking at that, we are just here to win our game,” Keshi told reporters.
It is the fourth time both teams will meet in the World Cup, with the South Americans having won all three previous encounters.
All attention is on one man, captain Lionel Messi who has scored twice already and is familiar with the Nigerians. The talisman got a birthday message from the Nigeria coach.
“My team and I want to wish him a very happy birthday. We want to wish him a healthy long life, all his heart’s desires,” Keshi said.
“If there is a way to stop him, it is something that I will share with my players and coaches.”
Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who gave a yeoman performance against Messi at the 2010 World Cup also praised the player but said he is not up against one man but the whole Argentina frontline.
“He’s one of the best players in the world and has made a lot of progress since the last time we met,” Enyeama said.
“It might not be a game between him and me, it’s going to be Nigeria against Argentina. There are other players like [Sergio] Aguero and [Angel] di Maria.
“I watch tapes of opponents, I have done that. We have studied their tapes, their strengths and weaknesses.”
“Every game has its own character. I will study the game but I’m sure tomorrow is going to have a different character,” Keshi said.
European giants Italy, four-time champions, became the latest former winners of the FIFA World Cup to exit Brazil 2014. They lost 1-0 to Uruguay in the last Group D match at the Estadio das Dunas, Natal on Tuesday.
Captain Diego Godin scored in the 81st minute as Uruguay edged 10-man Italy to reach the second round of the World Cup.
The match boiled over in the second half when Claudio Marchisio went in hard on Egidio Rios and was shown a red card.
However, Uruguay were lucky to not be down to 10 men themselves as Luis Suarez seemed to sink his teeth into the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini as they tussled in the box.
The Liverpool striker escaped punishment and went on to celebrate with Godin as the defender rose highest from a corner to score the crucial goal with nine minutes remaining.
Italy however became the third former World Cup winner to be sent home from the tournament after Spain and England.
With the victory, Uruguay joins Brazil, Germany, Argentina and France as the remaining past winners still in the race.
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