The arguably ‘most anticipated’ world event in 2018 has began already in Russia. It is no news that Nigeria is in the world cup group stamped with the dreaded ‘group of Death’ label – Group D, although hopes are high in some quarters.
Croatia would be taking on spirited Nigeria in a World Cup opener on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018 that could leave one side fighting for their tournament lives in the Group of Death.
Croatia and Nigeria, two teams who fully expect to reach the knockout round, are joined by Argentina, led by five-times world player of the year Lionel Messi, and surprise package Iceland, looking to match their march into the quarter-finals at Euro 2016.
Nigeria will try to put a run of indifferent form and controversy behind them when they step onto the pitch at the Kaliningrad Stadium.
The Super Eagles come into their tournament opener having failed to win in their last four international friendlies and dogged by scandal with coach Gernot Rohr accusing some reporters of unethical behaviour and coming up with lies in the build-up to the World Cup.
Nigeria are the lowest-ranked team in the group at 48 but have displayed the ability to punch above their weight as they did at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when they reached the round of 16.
“I love this group because we know how to rise to the occasion together,” said Rohr, on the Nigerian Football Federation website. “Nigeria will be ready for Croatia.”
In contrast, Croatia, a team stacked with quality, have often failed to live up to expectations.
Talent has never been quite enough for under-achieving Croatia, who have failed to advance past the group stage since their debut as an independent country at the 1998 World Cup in France, where they finished third.
They could not escape the group stage four years ago in Brazil and failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Even if the super Eagles don’t impress or lay their hands on any silverware at the world cup, they have made a mark in Russia with their fashion sense upon their arrival.
Nigeria Vs Croatia
Nigeria Vs Iceland
Nigeria Vs Argentina