By Victor Okoye, Mike Mbonye
A cross-section of football fans in Abuja on Friday expressed satisfaction with the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup draw, adding that Nigeria got “a fair deal’’.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria on Friday in Moscow drew Argentina for the fifth time in Super Eagles’ six appearances at the FIFA World Cup finals.
The Super Eagles were drawn alongside Argentina, Iceland and Croatia in Group D.
A cross-section of football fans who spoke with NAN at the Abuja National Stadium said in spite of the Super Eagles being drawn against Argentina, the draw was fair enough.
Nura Sanda, a medical doctor, said Nigeria was lucky to be in the group.
He added that it was another opportunity for the Super Eagles to prove to the world that their recent 4-2 win against the South American giants was not a fluke.
“The battle between Nigeria and Argentina has always been a thriller and the Eagles’ 4-2 win against the Argentines recently in a friendly match has made it even sweeter ahead of their Russia 2018 group stage encounter.
“I can’t wait to see the two sides clash again. As for our other opponents, I think Nigeria should be able to beat them comfortably and qualify for the knockout stage,” Sanda said.
Richard Omatiga, a businessman, was more expressive, saying “Nigeria and Argentina again? This Nigeria/Argentina love affair is becoming too much. Now they will be looking to revenge the humiliation they suffered from Alex Iwobi’s hands’’.
“Anyway, we should be able to make it to the round of 16.
“Even though the likes of Croatia are not pushovers, boasting of players such as Perisic, Mandzukic, Modric and Rakitic. But I am confident that we can make it out of the group,” he said.
On his part, Obinna Nwafor, a civil servant, said: “Our group seems to be a tough but fair one’’.
“This is because it could have been worse like the Morocco situation where the Africans have been pitted against the likes of Euro champions Portugal and Spain.
“However, whatever group we are in, we need to progress. But, it is an exciting one.
“For us, we have to take each opponent very serious right from our first game against Croatia. But our aim has to be to top the group,” he said.
Seyi Dada-Martins, a multimedia consultant, also said: “It is a very dicey group we have been drawn into, but I’m confident in the abilities of the set of players we have to scale through the group stage.
“I think Croatia is a bigger threat in that group. Once you lock down (Lionel) Messi, Argentina is useless,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the Super Eagles players’ reactions, defender Leon Balogun was the first to take to his Twitter handle to express his opinion on the draw.
“Wow – what a draw! This group is a challenge, an honour, a chance, an opportunity…it’s fire!!!! World Cup baby,” Balogun wrote.
NAN reports that Nigeria will take on Croatia on June 16 in Kaliningrad, before facing Iceland on June 22 in Volgograd and Argentina on June 26 in St. Petersburg.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to kick off on June 14 and last till July 15.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians living in South Africa are optimistic that the Super Eagles will qualify from their group.
Saliu Habib Miller, Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Union, South Africa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Pretoria, South Africa, that there was nothing to fear about the group.
“We have a good team, well managed by Gernot Rohr. Remember, we recently won Argentina in an international friendly and we did well in that match,” he said.
Miller said that Nigeria could stand on their own against Croatia and Iceland.
“The matches in our group will be tough, but for me, there is nothing to fear. I am optimistic that we can survive the group and go beyond the second round,” he said.
Chima Umealo, President Abia Union, South Africa, said Nigeria can survive the “group of death” during the World Cup.
“It is on record that Nigeria won the first FIFA U-17 World Cup, became the first African country to win a gold medal in football at the Olympic Games.
“Therefore, it is possible that the team can go places in the World Cup,” he said.
Trust Owoyele, Welfare Officer of Nigeria Union, expressed similar sentiments, saying that the Eagles should take every match as they come.
“There is nothing to fear. We have a good team that can stand on their own. But my advice to them is not to underrate any team,” he said.
Sidney Ihediwa, traditional ruler of Abia indigenes in South Africa, said that the Eagles had the potentials to win their group.
“We should remember that the Eagles survived a similar deadly group during the qualifying matches. I believe that they can survive the group and go beyond the second round.
“The players and officials must show character, zeal and drive to win all their matches. They should not fear names but play their usual game,” he said.
Chicaodili Nwanedo, Chairman, Nigeria Union, North West Province, of South Africa, said the only team he feared in the group was Croatia.
“We know the potentials of other teams, except Croatia. The Eagles should ensure that they win their group matches and go beyond the second round,” he said.