June 12, 2010 4:10:49 pm
With all the hoopla surrounding Argentina and its vaunted attack,Nigeria captain Nwankwo Kanu warned the South Americans on Friday not to overlook the African team’s strikers.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona has said he plans to field three forwards against Nigeria in the teams’ World Cup opener Saturday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg,and is expected to start world player of the year Lionel Messi,Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez and Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.
But Kanu said Nigeria’s attacking force shouldn’t be taken lightly either.
“They have to be aware of our strikers. We have good strikers as they do,and tomorrow they’re going to be able to see that,” said Kanu,who is playing in his third World Cup.
Along with Kanu,who plays for Portsmouth,Nigeria also boasts Everton striker Yakubu Ayegbeni and Wolfsburg forward Obafemi Martins up front,while Peter Osaze and Chinedu Obasi add pace and flare from the wings.
Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback,who only took over the team in February,said Argentina’s tactics to push the pace up front may open up for his players to counter attack.
“What I’ve seen from Argentina – not only during Maradona as a coach – is they always try to play very offensive game,” Lagerback said. “If they come with a very offensive team,that means they want to attack a lot,and maybe that can give us some good chances to find useable space for us to attack.”
Either way,the attention ahead of the match has focused on Messi,Maradona and the rest of the Argentina team,allowing Nigeria to breathe a bit easier than usual ahead of a World Cup opener and focus on the match itself.
“It’s good,now that everybody’s talking about Argentina,talking about their players and everything,” Kanu said. “It helps us in a way because the pressure is on them.”
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