Argentina star Lionel Messi
Monday May 28, 2018. 09:30
Former Super Eagles star Taribo West says Nigeria won’t be able to cope with Lionel Messi at the 2018 World Cup, but adds that the team could spring a surprise in Russia.
Nigeria and Argentina will clash in the final round of Group D matches on June 26 in Saint Petersburg, with maestro Messi the clear and present danger to the West African side’s defence.
And West, who appeared at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups with Nigeria, believes Gernot Rohr’s side won’t be able to handle the Barcelona forward in the game.
“We have good defenders, but from what I have seen, they don’t have what it takes to stop Messi at the World Cup. Stopping Messi requires special tactics which they don’t have,” the 44-year-oldtold Conmpletesportsnigeria.
“We don’t have the kind of defenders that can mark out Messi for 90 minutes and that will make it difficult for the Super Eagles.
“My advice is that they should not concentrate too much on him. During my playing days, you need just one player that will mark him out and throughout 90 minutes, there won’t be breathing space for him.”
Aside from explaining that Nigeria will struggle against Messi, West is confident that they will perform strongly at the tournament.
“If you see the way they are preparing for the World Cup and the way they played during the qualifying series, I will say they did incredibly well and if they can continue like that, definitely they will excel in Russia,” he added.
“I believe this team will do well because they are strong and young and that is some of the things you need in a team.
“A team like this present Super Eagles can create surprises and also go far in the World Cup.
“I have no doubt that they will make it from the group as long as they play as a team and remain focused,” West concluded.