Nigeria and Argentina have an interesting history in the FIFA World Cup and football in general. In the World Cup, both teams have faced each other 5 times and all in the group stages. Argentina and Nigeria have been drawn in the same group in the last 3 consecutive World Cup tournaments. Here, we look at everytime Nigeria has faced the South American giants in the World’s number 1 sports competition.
1994 FIFA World Cup
1994 was the first year Nigeria participated in the World Cup. The team was drawn in a group with Bulgaria, Greece, and Argentina. Nigeria won against Bulgaria and Greece but lost 1 goal to 2 against Argentina. The game against Argentina was Nigeria’s 2nd group stage game and it was played on the 25th of June.
Argentina had players like the Legendary Diego Maradona, Caniggia, Batistuta, and Simeone. On the part of the Super Eagles, we had Yekini, Jay Jay Okocha, Finidi George, Emmanuel, Amunike, and Sia Sia who scored Nigeria’s only goal.
The game started off well for the Super Eagles as Sia Sia found the net in the 8th minute. His goal was assisted by Rashidi Yekini. In the 22nd minute, Argentina got the equalizer when Caniggia found the back of the net. 7 minutes later, Caniggia put in his second after Maradona did his magic with an assist.
The score was 2 – 1 at half time and so it remained until the end of the game. Nigeria did qualify from the group but were sent home by Italy in the Round of 16.
2002 FIFA World Cup
The 2002 FIFA World Cup is the worst performance by the Super Eagles in the competition. Nigeria was in a group with 3 very strong teams; England, Sweden, and Argentina. The Super Eagles lost against Argentina and Sweden. They managed a goalless game against England and failed to qualify.
The Nigeria squad that year had players like Kanu, Jay Jay Okocha, Taribo West, Babayaro, and Joseph Yobo. Argentina had Simeone, Crespo, Zanetti, and Batistuta. The game ended 1 goal to nil with Batistuta scoring for the Argentines.
The Super Eagles held their ground for more than 60 minutes into the game. Hence, the first half ended in a goalless draw. In the 63rd minute, Vernon assisted Batistuta for the winning goal. This match was the opening match for Nigeria in the World Cup.
The second match against Sweden ended in a 2 – 1 loss with Larsson scoring twice in the 35th minute and 63rd minute. Aghahowa had first scored for Nigeria in the 27th minute.
2010 FIFA World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is the same as the 2002 World Cup for Nigeria. The only difference is that this time, Nigeria scored more goals. Nigeria’s group had Greece, South Korea, and Argentina. The Super Eagles would again lose to Argentina, Greece, and draw against South Korea.
Like in 2002, the match against Nigeria was the opening game for the Super Eagles and Nigeria lost one goal to nothing. This was the first time that Lionel Messi, the best football player in the World, would play against Nigeria in the World Cup.
Argentina had other world class players like Tevez, Di Maria, Heinze, Aguero, and Higuain. Nigeria had Enyeama, Yobo, Obafemi Martins, Taino, and Kalu Uche. If not for Vincent Enyeama’s heroics, Nigeria would have conceded more than one goal.
The Nigerian goalkeeper saved several deadly and on-target attempts by Lionel Messi. Nevertheless, Argentina took the lead very early in the game with Heinze scoring the opening goal in the 6th minute of the game.
2014 FIFA World Cup
This is the most popular Nigerian match against Argentina in the World Cup. It’s also the highest scoring match as the game ended in a 3 – 2 loss for the Super Eagles. This time, there was little Enyeama could do to prevent Lionel Messi, still the World’s best player from finding the net.
That year, Argentina would go on to reach the World Cup final where they lost 1 nil against Germany in extra time. Mikel, Musa, Emenike, Omeruo, and Odemwinge were some players for Nigeria. On the other hand, Argentina had Rojo, Mascherano, Di Maria, Aguero, Higuain, and of course, the number 10.
It didn’t take long for Messi to find the net from kick off as he scored within 3 minutes. Almost immediately, Musa gave Nigeria the equalizer with a superb goal in the 4th minute. Messi who had nearly scored a free kick earlier put on behind Enyeama in the stoppage time of the first half.
It was 2 – 1 at half time and immediately the second half started, it took Musa 2 minutes to equalize yet again. This time with an even more superb goal. 3 minutes later, Rojo scored the last goal which gave Argentina the 3 points.
2018 FIFA World Cup
The latest encounter between both teams in the FIFA World Cup was a very dramatic one. Nigeria was drawn in a group with Croatia, Iceland, and Argentina. Nigeria had lost against Croatia and won against Iceland. Argentina also lost against Croatia but drew against Iceland.
This was the last match of the group stage and Argentina needed a win to qualify for the knockout stages. Nigeria needed just a draw. Unfortunately, the Super Eagles lost by 2 goals to one.
Notably players in the Super Eagles squad included Victor Moses, Ighalo, Mikel, Musa, and Iheanacho. Argentina had Messi, Di Maria, Higuain, and Rojo amongst others.
Messi opened the scoring for Argentina in the 14th minute with one of his best goals. It wasn’t until the second half that Victor Moses equalized from the penalty spot. Marcos Rojo, once again scored a late goal in the 86th minute to send the Super Eagles home.
Out of the 5 times Nigeria has played against Argentina, the South American side have won all. Nigeria have only managed to beat Argentina in the Olympics and a few international friendlies.