The Arsenal manager has tipped the Super Eagles to join Argentina into the second round due to the fact that they have less stars but greater spirit
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has tipped Nigeria to reach the second round of the World Cup alongside Argentina in Group F.
The Frenchman feels that the Super Eagles have something going for them this year, ‘team spirit’ and a lack of big egos which has ensured for a united squad and differentiated them from many African sides of the past.
He said Argentina should win the group which also has Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina and that Nigeria should join them in the second round.
“I think that Nigeria might qualify for the second stage,” Wenger wrote in his Eurosport World Cup preview.
“They really made a good impression on me during the African Cup of Nations. They seem to have a really good team spirit, which is not always easy for African teams.
“They have less star players. They have a real team, and it’s been a while since that happened for them,” Wenger said of Stephen Keshi’s team.
Of Argentina, the Frenchman expects them to do well playing in South America where they would be buoyed by the rivalry with neighbours Brazil.
He also said that coach Alejandro Sabella has done better than Diego Maradona in his selection of a balanced side despite the array of impressive attacking talent at his disposal.
“Normally Argentina should qualify thanks to their offensive potential. You might even say that Argentina have too many good players in attack,” Wenger wrote.
“ It’s not easy to be a manager in Argentina, because it’s hard to build a balanced team without leaving some indisputable players off the field.
“They have Higuain, Messi, Aguero, and Tevez, who didn’t even make the final squad. they have so many forwards; it will be very hard to keep a balanced team. It’s what happened in South Africa.
“Still, Sabella’s team seems more balanced than Maradona’s. They can’t make a mess of this World Cup; Argentina just can’t.
“The two main rivals in South America are Brazil and Argentina. There can’t be a World Cup in Brazil and Argentina be humiliated and not have a great tournament. They will have a huge pressure on them,” Wenger said.
Nigeria and Argentina will meet for the fourth time in the World Cup on June 25 in Porto Alegre. The Super Eagles will open their campaign against Iran on June 16 in Curitiba before taking on Bosnia in Cuiaba on 21.