The Super Eagles of Nigeria came from a two-goal deficit to beat the La Albiceleste of Argentina in an international fixture played inside the Krasnodar Stadium in Russia.
The Super Eagles showed a character they were once known for in their more prosperous days – their ability to stage a comeback from a losing position.
In the first half of this match, Argentina were they more dominant side. Their dominance of the mid-field prevented the Super Eagles from crossing the half-way line, as their striking force led by Sergio Aguero tore through Nigeria’s back line with devastating efficiency.
A hasty viewer, unfamiliar with the topsy-turvydom of the game of football, would have predicted that the game would end with an emphatic victory for the two times World Cup champions but the West African side had other ideas up their sleeves.
Argentina scored their first goal through a superbly struck free kick, played by Ever Banega. Eight minutes later, Sergio Aguero doubled their lead when he tucked into the empty net a low cross from Cristian Pavon that located him inside Nigeria’s six yard box.
The super Eagles grew into the game gradually. Mikel Obi started pulling the strings from the mid-field after his side conceded the second goal, and his incisive passes enabled his front men to make inroads into the opponent’s final third.
On the dot of the last minute of the official time, Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho scored from a well-conceived and wonderfully executed free kick, which swept round the man-made wall of Argentina’s players before entering the net.
Buoyed up by their first goal, the Super Eagles entered the second half with greater confidence and they took the game to the Argentines in their own half. The zest with which they attacked their opponent eventually paid off : and they scored three beautiful goals in the process. Arsenal’s Alexander Iwobi scored a brace while Bryan Idowu added his name to the scorers’ sheet with his wonderful strike.
The chemistry that had existed amongst the Argentine players in the first half suddenly disappeared ,and the cohesiveness of their team slipped into an uncoordinated individual play that made them vulnerable to the attacking play of the Super Eagles , who had suddenly got their acts together.
The mid-field generalship of Mikel Obi, the predatory instinct of Alexander Iwobi and the mercurial movements of Iheanacho constituted a bewildering tactical problem the Argentine players could not wrap their minds around , as they crumpled to the fireworks of a resurgent Nigeria’s side.
Although the result of a friendly match is not usually indicative of how a team would fare in a competitive game, this match would have opened the eyes of the coaches of both nations to the areas they need to improve upon in their teams before the commencement of the World Cup finals next year.