Nigeria out to stop things getting Messi

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm •  Published: June 24, 2014
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PORTO ALGERE, Brazil (AP) — The last time Argentina met Nigeria in the World Cup, Vincent Enyeama kept Lionel Messi off the scorers' list with several fine saves.

Whether he does the same Wednesday might just determine if the Nigerians fly home or progress to the knockout rounds.

Coming off one of his best seasons for French side Lille, Enyeama said he wasn't afraid of Messi, but also noted that the game would not just be between him and the Argentina star.

"He is one of the best players in the world, and he has made a lot of progress since the last time we played each other," he said.

Back in South Africa in 2010, Nigeria lost the game to Argentina 1-0 thanks to a headed early goal by Gabriel Heinze. It went on to lose to Greece then draw with South Korea, ensuring an early exit.

This time around it needs just a point from Wednesday's match against the South Americans to qualify after an opening 0-0 draw against Iran and a 1-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina, its first at the World Cup in 16 years. It would top the group if it pulls off a surprise and beats Argentina. Even a loss might see it through if Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Iran.

Enyeama almost broke the French record for the longest spell without conceding this season but fell short on 1,062 minutes.

"He is a goalkeeper with a great athletic capability and reflexes," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. "He stands out in his club in the French league; he stands out in his national team."

Aside from Messi, who has scored in each of Argentina's scrappy wins against Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sabella's team has failed to impress so far in the tournament.