Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr is under no illusions regarding the task facing his team in Group D of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia after the group stage draws were conducted in Moscow on Friday.
Nigeria were drawn against Croatia, Iceland and two-time World Cup winners Argentina in what will be their fifth time of facing the South American powerhouse at the Mundial.
Although Nigeria have never beaten the Albiceleste at the World Cup finals – they in fact have won every game against Nigeria at the World Cup – the Super Eagles defeated them in a friendly in Krasnodar last month in the absence of their talismanic captain, Lionel Messi.
“Argentina, we know that they are a very good team but it will be more difficult now than in the friendly,” Rohr told the Super Eagles Media team.
“We know them a little bit but it will be more difficult than in the friendly because they know how we are playing.
“We cannot surprise them like we did the last time. And now they will play with Messi. Messi will be here,” he added.
Nigeria’s group is by no means an easy one as the Super Eagles face 1998’s third placed side Croatia in their group opener at the 35,000 capacity Kaliningrad Stadium on June 16 before facing Iceland six days later in Volgograd.
“We only have good teams (in our group). You know we were in the last pot so we have three teams supposed to be better than us because they are higher in the FIFA ranking,” explained Rohr.
“So, what we have to do is to prepare well for our first game against Croatia. It would be interesting to have a good friendly for example against Serbia because they play similar football (with Croatia).”
Nigeria and perhaps the other African representatives have the FIFA International window in March available to prosecute more tune-up games ahead of the World Cup in June.