FIFA World Cup 2018: I can beat Lionel Messi, declares Nigeria’s goal hero Ahmed Musa
Ahmed Musa is ready to inspire Nigeria to victory over Argentina in their final FIFA World Cup 2018 group game, having apparently been described as “Lionel Musa” in South America.football Updated: Jun 23, 2018 09:03 IST
Ahmed Musa struck two stunning goals to sink Iceland 2-0 on Friday and then promised to do the same to Lionel Messi’s Argentina in Tuesday’s Group D showdown.
The Leicester City striker, currently on loan at CSKA Moscow, became the first Nigerian to score at two World Cups as the Super Eagles secured a crucial win over Iceland, who missed a penalty.
He scored both goals in Nigeria’s group stage 3-2 defeat to Argentina in Porto Alegre, Brazil, four years ago and is relishing the chance to do it again.
But this time he hopes it will knock out the South Americans.
“I think scoring against Argentina isn’t that difficult for me,” he smiled after his man-of-the-match performance in Volgograd. “We know the importance of the game. It’s do or die.”
The African side will secure a spot in the knockout stage alongside Croatia if they beat Argentina.
A draw would be enough to eliminate the Argentines but would leave Nigeria’s fate resting on the outcome of Iceland’s game against Croatia which kicks off at the same time.
Musa also scored twice for Leicester in a 4-2 pre-season friendly defeat against Messi-inspired Barcelona two years ago and said he always scores when up against the Argentine superstar.
“I can remember four years ago when Messi played in Brazil I scored two goals,” he recalled.
“And when I transferred to Leicester I played against Barcelona and he’s on the pitch and I scored another two goals.
“So I think next game anything can happen -- possibly I’m going to score another two goals,” he laughed.
Nigeria coach Gerhot Rohr was full of praise for his side, who are the youngest at this World Cup, especially the way they came out firing in the second half after Iceland put them under the pump in the first 45 minutes.
“What I like in my young team is humility, solidarity and fighting spirit. I thought before this World Cup we were here to learn,” said the German.
“I think this team will be ready in 2022 and this World Cup is coming early, but we have a good chance to win against Argentina.”
Musa, who came into the starting line-up in place of Alex Iwobi, announced himself in magnificent style with two of the goals of the tournament.
Musa’s sweetly struck half-volley fired Nigeria into the lead just after half-time before he added a second with 15 minutes to go to make the game safe.
Iceland got a lifeline in the 82nd minute with a VAR-awarded penalty but dead-ball specialist Gylfi Sigurdsson blazed over the bar.
With Croatia heading the group on six points Nigeria knew a second defeat would mean elimination but now qualification is in their own hands.
Iceland started brightest but Nigeria, with captain John Obi Mikel sitting deeper in midfield than the defeat against Croatia, slowly worked their way into the game as Victor Moses posed a constant threat on the right flank.
Rohr brought on wing-back Tyronne Ebuehi for Bryan Idowu at the start of the second half and Nigeria came out full of running.
The tireless Moses was released down the right and his cross was met by Musa who teed up the ball deftly with the outside of his right foot before unleashing an unstoppable half-volley into the roof of the net.
Musa made the game safe with a breathless second, controlling a long ball without breaking stride, beating Kari Arnason then rounding Halldorsson before powering his shot past two covering defenders on the line.
First Published: Jun 23, 2018 09:02 IST