I can win Musa v Messi duel, says Nigeria’s deadly striker

Sunday Times - - Sport | Golf/Russia 2018 -

● Deadly Ahmed Musa struck two stun­ning goals to sink Iceland 2-0 on Fri­day and then promised to do the same to Lionel Messi’s Ar­gentina in Tues­day’s Group D show­down.

The Le­ices­ter City striker, cur­rently on loan at CSKA Moscow, be­came the first Nige­rian to score at two World Cups as the Su­per Ea­gles se­cured a cru­cial win over Iceland, who missed a penalty.

He scored both goals in Nigeria’s group stage 3-2 de­feat to Ar­gentina in Porto Ale­gre, Brazil, four years ago and is rel­ish­ing the chance to do it again.

But this time he hopes it will knock out the South Amer­i­cans.

“I think scor­ing against Ar­gentina isn’t that dif­fi­cult for me,” he smiled af­ter his man-of-the-match per­for­mance in Vol­gograd. “We know the im­por­tance of the game. It’s do or die.” The African side will se­cure a spot in the knock­out stage along­side Croa­tia if they beat Ar­gentina.

A draw would be enough to elim­i­nate the Ar­gen­tines, but would leave Nigeria’s fate rest­ing on the out­come of Iceland’s game against Croa­tia at the same time.

Musa scored twice for Le­ices­ter in a 4-2 pre-sea­son friendly de­feat of Messi-in­spired Barcelona two years ago and said he al­ways scores when up against the su­per­star.

“I can re­mem­ber four years ago when Messi played in Brazil I scored two goals,” he re­called. “And when I trans­ferred to Le­ices­ter I played against Barcelona and he’s on the pitch and I scored another two goals. So I think next game any­thing can hap­pen — pos­si­bly I’m go­ing to score another two goals,” he laughed.

Nigeria coach Ger­hot Rohr was full of praise for his side, the youngest at this World Cup, es­pe­cially the way they came out firing in the sec­ond half af­ter Iceland put them un­der the pump in the first 45 min­utes.

“What I like in my young team is hu­mil­ity, sol­i­dar­ity and fight­ing spirit. I thought be­fore this World Cup we were here to learn,” said the Ger­man. “I think this team will be ready in 2022 and this World Cup is coming early, but we have a good chance to win against Ar­gentina.” Musa, who came into the start­ing lineup in place of Alex Iwobi, an­nounced him­self in mag­nif­i­cent style with two of the goals of the tour­na­ment.

His sweetly struck half-vol­ley fired Nigeria into the lead just af­ter half time be­fore he added a sec­ond with 15 min­utes to go.

Iceland got a life­line in the 82nd minute with a VAR-awarded penalty but dead-ball spe­cial­ist Gylfi Sig­urds­son blazed over.

With Croa­tia head­ing the group on six points Nigeria knew a sec­ond de­feat would mean elim­i­na­tion, but now qual­i­fi­ca­tion is in their own hands.

Iceland started bright­est but Nigeria, with cap­tain John Obi Mikel deeper in mid­field than in the de­feat to Croa­tia, slowly worked their way into the game as Vic­tor Moses posed a con­stant threat on the right flank.

Rohr brought on wing­back Ty­ronne Ebuehi for Bryan Idowu in the sec­ond half and Nigeria came out full of run­ning.

The tire­less Moses was re­leased down the right and his cross was met by Musa who teed up the ball deftly with the out­side of his right foot be­fore un­leash­ing an un­stop­pable half-vol­ley into the roof of the net.

Musa made the game safe with a breath­less sec­ond, con­trol­ling a long ball with­out break­ing stride, beat­ing Kari Ar­na­son then round­ing Hall­dors­son be­fore shoot­ing past two cov­er­ing de­fend­ers on the line.

Nigeria’s two-goal hero Ahmed Musa is look­ing for­ward to meet­ing Lionel Messi.

Ar­gentina and the un­der­per­form­ing Lionel Messi were in dis­ar­ray fol­low­ing their sham­bolic 3-0 de­feat to Croa­tia.

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