Former Nigerian international, Segun Odegbami, has said the Super Eagles of Nigeria are not under any pressure to defeat Argentina today in their crunch final Group D match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Odegbami, who delivered a pep talk to the team on Monday at their Saint Petersburg hotel, said this in a statement made exclusive to Newsbreak.ng.
Describing the game as the “most challenging” in the team’s history, Odegbami said he was impressed with the composure of the players, adding that it is a major advantage they would have to break their World Cup jinx over their Argentine counterparts, who are “pressure-cooker tension.”
The football legend, popularly known as “Mathematical”, also stated that even though the Super Eagles are seen as the underdogs, there would not be any worldwide condemnation for the team if they lose to their more illustrious South American rivals because they can count on the support of the entire Nigerians throughout the game.
Odegbami said, “For me, this may be the most challenging match in our entire history because Nigerian’s expect (and justifiably too) that their beloved Super Eagles, their most visible and potent global ambassadors, will do the seemingly ‘impossible’.
“They are expected to defy all odds, break a jinx of four previous consecutive defeats at the World Cup, neutralise the greatest player in the history of football for 90 minutes, silence the 30,000 die-hard supporters following the Argentine team, plus an additional, overwhelmingly anti-black audience that dominate a Cup that is surely not designed so that a Black African team will win, and defeat a pre-championship favourite, Argentina, tonight.
“That is the mountain our team of young, hardworking and patriotic Super Eagles is expected to climb and conquer successfully today. The odds are stacked against the Eagles. It is mostly Nigerians that believe that their team will win tonight. That’s the big advantage thè Nigerian players have – unlike the Argentines there is no pressure-cooker tension in their camp. Unlike the Argentines, there will be no global humiliation even in defeat.
“When I left the team yesterday my spirit was lifted by their attitude and composure, a steeliness in their eyes reflecting determination and confidence, and an uncommon calmness of a singlemindedness to put up the fight of their lives, and to do-or-die in the process.”
The 1980 Africa Cup of Nations winner also said he used the occasion to challenge the team’s captain, John Mikel Obi, and his army to use the match to make a statement to all Nigerians, “reminding us all about who we are in the world, where we are coming from and our responsibility to all black persons on earth.”
The Super Eagles will face Argentina in a 7 pm (Nigerian time) kickoff tonight.