Coach Gernot Rohr has revealed he will not put a man on Argentina superstar Lionel Messi when both countries clash at the World Cup in Russia.
Nigeria have lost on all four occasions they faced the two-time world champions at the World Cup with skipper Messi grabbing a brace when Argentina beat the Eagles 3-2 at the last World Cup in Brazil.
Rohr has now said the Eagles will defend as a team so as to reduce the threat posed by one of the best players in the world.
“At this stage, there is no special plan (to stop Messi). We don’t even know whether he will play. Of course, we all know him and we know of his quality,” the Nigeria coach said in an interview published by Soccer Laduma today.
“But we also played against some really good players in our qualification and were able to deal with them. We had Riyad Mahrez at Algeria, we played against Sadio Mane and Senegal in a friendly.
“We know how to organise our defence against top quality players.
“What I can tell you now already is that there will be no man-marking of Messi. We did this in the old days, even myself, but it’s not used too often these days.
“We will deal with Messi or any big player as a collective. But often you won’t be able to keep top players quiet over the whole 90 minutes.”
Messi missed his team’s 4-2 loss to Nigeria in a friendly in November in Russia and Rohr said on hindsight that result may now be a big disadvantage for the Eagles as the South Americans we take them a lot more seriously at the World Cup.
He said: “We are very cautious and have to analyse this great result in context.
“Argentina had played another friendly against Russia in Russia before facing us. Perhaps they were a bit tired – they also left Russia soon after our game.
“I think no one should overrate the result. I definitely won’t overrate it.
“It was definitely not to our advantage because Argentina will take us more seriously now. “