SPORTS FLAKES: Eagles ‘ll Retire Messi!

SPORTS FLAKES: Eagles ‘ll Retire Messi!

Enough is enough. Argentina will find a different class of Eagles at the Russia 2018 Cup. Lionel Messi’s Mundial days are definitely over, you cannot pillory Nigeria for the umpteenth time and get away with it. The Lion of the Pampas must leave Eastern Europe in tatters.

Give it to the Argies, they have enjoyed so much superiority that they do not even believe the Nigerians have anything to offer. Messi not only mesmerized us, he messed up our pride and still believes the next World Cup will be business as usual.

That arrogance is the weapon the Eagles need to prove to the globe that the Nigeria that stunned the World with Africa’s first Olympic soccer gold in 1996 is capable of doing great things again. We won Olympic gold before Argentina, we did it before Brazi, in soccer that is.

When the Eagles are hot, they are difficult to bruise. In their 1994 debut, they battered Bulgaria 3-0. That was a Bulgarian side that boasted of superstars: Hristo Stoichkov, Yordan Lechkov and Emil Kostadinov. The Bulgarians eventually finished as bronze winners.

In 1998, many rated Spain as potential champions. They had Raul Gonzalez[Raul Madrid], they had Luis Enrique, Fernando Hierro and even when Pep [Josep] Guardiola succumbed to injury, there was a capable replacement in Albert Celades.

When the Spanish Armada confronted Nigeria , their goalie, Andoni Zubizarreta, was bombed into retirement by Sunday Oliseh’s ballistic missile. The Eagles won 3-2 and Spain did not even make it to the next round. The good thing was that coach Javier Clemente saw the Nigerian threat early enough. “Everybody wanted to avoid Nigeria”, he said after the Draw in 1997.

It is a different story with Argentina today. Sergio Aguero says the Eagles are paper weight. His father-in-law, Diego Maradona, thinks with Messi, it will be a walk over in Russia. Easier said than done. The taste of the pudding is in eating.

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The new Eagles are not the ones Maradona, Messi and Aguerro knew. A team that qualified from the toughest of the African qualifying groups cannot be dismissed with a mere wave of the hand. Running over Cameroun, Algeria and Zambia is a huge plus. All four teams were African champions in the past. Cameroun are still defending champions.
Maradona knows so much about the Indomitable Lions. They shamed his country at Italia’ 90 even as defending champions, and with nine men. In 1990, the African champions were Algeria. The Cameroun that defeated World Cup holders Argentina in 1990, were not even Africa’s best. The Eagles that will tame Messi in Russia, subdued African champions, Cameroun.

We give it to Maradona. He was a fantastic player who once boasted:”Soy un elegido de Dios”[I am elected by God]. Brazilian newspaper, Jornal Da Tarde, wrote in 1986,”Argentina is only Diego Maradona, a general who commands ten recruits and who is winning the battle.”

May I add that Maradona was also a cheat. He quit international football after FIFA banned him for using drugs in the 2-1 defeat of Nigeria at the USA’94 World Cup. If it were in the Olympics, Argentina would have been disqualified and three points awarded to the Eagles.

Maradona failed woefully as a coach. He took his country to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Again they defeated Nigeria in a duel Vincent Enyeama showed he was as good as the best in the globe. The same Argentina would later suffer a 4-0 disgrace.

Messi has enjoyed an upper hand over Nigeria. His two goals from the spot, crowned Argentina U-20 World Cup champions in 2005. He won Olympic gold in 2008 as Nigeria crumbled to silver. He scored the winner against the Eagles at Brazil 2004,on a day Ahmed Musa exploded with two splendid goals.

In the last friendly which Nigeria won 4-2, Aguerro believes Messi’s absence and his half time injury made the difference. That is the height of self deceit. The Brazilians do not think Ronaldo’s convulsion cost them the trophy at France ’98. A Lazy workman quarrels with his tools.

The Eagles retired Didier Drogba of Cote D’Ivoire in 2013. They have shut the trap of Cameroun. Maradona disgraced himself while playing against Nigeria in 1994. Messi is not in the class of Maradona.

Russia’2018 will definitely be his last Mundial and he will live to regret meeting our super team. I see Iceland slicing the South Americans like dodo. The icing on the cake will be the hanging of Messi’s cleats after a drubbing by the Super Eagles.