Football

Nigeria won’t focus on Messi at the World Cup, says Ndidi

For Leicester City youngster, Wilfred Ndidi, when Nigeria battle against Argentina in the Group B of the Russia 2018 World Cup, there won’t be the need to focus too much on stopping team captain, Lionel Messi, the best bet would be to try and stop the rest of the Argentina side.
Ndidi believes that if he and his Nigerian colleagues put all their energies into stopping Messi, then there’s a fair chance another one of their many talents will strike in what many are dubbing the Group of Death.
The Super Eagles have what looks a daunting Group D, with Argentina joining them, Croatia and England’s Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland, but for Ndidi, his message is simple.
“I’m not sure I agree with the idea of trying to stop Messi,” he said.
“We know how important he is for their team but if we try too hard to stop him, we could be allowing the other players to get past us to score.
“Besides, if we try too hard to stop Messi, he could draw fouls in very deep areas around our 18-yard box and you know how dangerous he can be with free-kicks from that distance.”
Messi once again underlined his credentials on Tuesday night, if he needed to, bagging a hat-trick in a 4-0 rout of Haiti in their warm-up game, albeit against a side ranked 108th in the world.
Sergio Aguero netted the other – only serving to highlight the strength in this side and the task facing Ndidi and his colleagues.
Nigeria have bad memories of facing Messi and the Argentines, though, and those memories are not too far away.
The 30-year-old scored twice to help his side to a 3-2 win at the World Cup in 2014, with Foxes man Ahmed Musa netting twice in response.
“He did it against us in 2014, I think. So, rather than try to stop Messi, we should work on a plan to shut out the whole Argentina team,” Ndidi told CSN.
“We are in the toughest group in the World Cup because of the calibre of teams in Group D. Argentina and their superstar players are well known to us and we also know the quality of the Croatian team. We must however not underrate Iceland,” continued the 21-year-old, who has impressed at the King Power Stadium this term. Apart from what they did at the European Championships in France in 2016, we should also consider the manner of their qualification for the World Cup. They beat Croatia to win their qualifying group and this tells me they will be a very difficult side to play.
“I noticed the focus on Argentina but I think we should pay equal attention to all our group opponents. Each game is three points so if we focus our energy on Argentina and beat them but lost to the other two teams then we are not going anywhere.
“The first game is very important. We must try to win it because it will help to position us well in the group if we do.”

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