Lionel Messi and his team mates insisted Argentina's FA play a friendly match against Nigeria

ARGENTINE skipper Lionel Messi and his team mates were the ones who pushed their football association to ensure that it went ahead with the friendly game against Nigeria on November 14.


Both Nigeria and Argentina have qualified for Russia 2018, although Nigeria still has a dead rubber qualifier to play against Algeria's Desert Foxes in Algiers on October 10. On that same date, Argentina will face World Cup hosts Russia in Moscow and four days later, the two teams will meet again in the Russian city of Krasnodar.


Argentina was advised by its senior players led by captain Messi to settle for a friendly game against Nigeria ahead of Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Earlier this month, the Argentine FA was in talks with Azerbaijan and also Ukraine for a friendly game after securing a high profile friendly against Russia and talks were at an advanced stage before they settled for Nigeria.


Nigeria were originally looking for a game against Argentina next year but the plan was brought forward after senior players in the team decided on facing the Super Eagles ahead of Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Apparently, the players were asked to choose between Nigeria, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, with the latter duo being the preferred choice of the FA due to their proximity to Russia but the players pushed for a game against Nigeria to have a taste of something different.


One football expert said: “ It’s normal for the FA to speak with the coach, who will then inform the players through the captain about any friendly game and venue. It’s so in Argentina because most of the players have to travel long miles because of their locations."


Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr is expected to release the names of the players who will prosecute both games today. His list is expected to be particularly long with new faces used on the game against Algeria, while the Argentine match will see the return of the backbone of the team, including the likes of Mikel Obi, Leon Balogun and Wilfred Ndidi.