Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is hoping Ahmed Musa will again step up to the plate in their deciding match against Argentina on Tuesday, but is quick to admit that the Super Eagles forward is no Lionel Messi … yet.
The Leicester City man proved the difference as Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0 at Volgograd Arena on Friday evening, scoring twice in the second half as his pace wreaked havoc for the defenders.
Iceland looked a lot more comfortable against Messi in their opening game, but Rohr has warned not to get carried away by Musa’s performance.
“Musa is not Lionel Messi yet,” the German told kicker. “Somebody said ‘Lionel Musa’ yesterday, but he’s not there yet. I hope he can do it one day.”
Rohr will need Musa firing on all cylinders in St Petersburg, and has warned that his players are in for a serious challenge as Argentina look to save face after a 3-0 humiliation against Croatia.
“Argentina have one more day to prepare. That’s an advantage for them,” he added. “But it could be the other way around because we have the psychological effect on our side because we came back from a defeat on the opening day.
“Most teams also lost the second match, but we turned it around. It wasn’t easy. The psychological advantage now is that we have a positive approach. And it’s the other way around for Argentina. We bank on that a bit.”
Messi more than most will be up for a shot at redemption, having come in for severe criticism for his two performances to date, but Rohr warns that focusing on just one player could lead to serious problems for the Super Eagles.
“He’s not the only key. If you look at the team, they have so many good players. You only have to look at where they are playing. Aguero and Otamendi at Manchester City. Higuain and Dybala at Juve and so it continues. Individually, Argentina are among the best teams in the world.
“They were unfortunate to miss that penalty against Iceland. Argentina are not only Messi, but he’s the most dangerous, that’s obvious. Moreover, he is a proud person and he does not want to go out.
“They will turn their disappointment into a good aggressiveness and motivation. And I must be careful after such a win. That glowing, I need to keep the lads grounded. Other than Mikel and Moses my players lack experience.”
So how does the coach rate his team’s chances of getting something from the game and knocking Argentina out?
“Fifty-fifty. A draw could already be enough, even though we are not allowed to play for a draw. We are not allowed to and we can’t do it. Not with Africans, and certainly not with our young team.”
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