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Argentina tangles with Nigeria at Group F summit

Jul 10, 2014 - 1:21 AM Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ( - The top two teams in Group F will meet Wednesday, when Argentina takes on Nigeria at the Maracana.

The Argentineans have already secured a spot in the knockout round with a victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina and, on Saturday, a narrow win over Iran. In that contest, La Albiceleste barely managed to keep the game scoreless, while Lionel Messi struck in stoppage time with the winner.

"We have to have a good look at what happened and try to improve. We have a few causes for concern," said Argentina's coach, Alejandro Sabella, after the contest.

Messi has scored two of Argentina's three goals in the tournament, while the third was a Bosnia own goal.

"We know we are not playing as well as we are expected," the star striker explained. "But we have qualified for the next round and that was our first objective."

Nigeria, too, comes off a win by a slim margin over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Shortly after a Bosnia tally was waived off because of an incorrect offside decision, Peter Odemwingie put the Super Eagles into the lead, and his goal would hold up as the winner. It was also the team's first goal of the tournament having drawn with Iran, 0-0, in the opening match.

"I didn't expect to come back and score a winner in such an important game, but I'm very happy," Odemwingie said. "But this was a point the team earned."

On four points, Nigeria sits in second place in the group. A win or draw in this match gets the African side through, as does a Bosnia win or draw in its match with Iran.

"I never thought that we wouldn't make the round of 16. I have the players," said Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi. "We need to work hard for the game against Argentina."

The Super Eagles have yet to allow a goal in the tournament and will hope to continue their solid defensive display against the group favorites.

Argentina, so long as it avoids a loss, wins the group and moves on to face the runner-up of Group E, most likely Ecuador or Switzerland.

The South American side will be hoping to get more players involved offensively to help take the weight off Messi's shoulders. One consistent bright spot has been the play of goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who has come up with big saves to keep his team alive in two close matches.

With both teams struggling to score goals, a low-scoring draw is a realistic result for this one, which would send both squads to the last 16.