Nigeria must make sure today’s match against Argentina in St Petersburg is Lionel Messi’s last at a World Cup, says full-back Brian Idowu.
Argentina’s campaign in Russia is veering close to implosion after Messi missed a penalty in their opening 1-1 draw against Iceland and Croatia made the most of an abject display from Jorge Sampaoli’s side to run out 3-0 winners, securing safe passage from Group D.
Reports of a mutinous atmosphere in the Argentina camp have dominated the build-up but, by contrast, Idowu put the Super Eagles’ aim in simple, uncomplicated terms.
“That would be our main goal – to make it his last World Cup game,” he told a pre-match news conference when asked about possibly bringing down the curtain on Messi’s career on the grandest stage.
“As much as we love to watch Messi play, he is playing against us so we only have one option.
“Of course, I would like to swap shirts with him but there are a lot of players I would like to swap shirts with in the Argentina side.”
Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr rejected the suggestion Idowu’s words might have the ill-fated consequence of providing extra motivation to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“No, we don’t think about that. We focus on our game,” said the German tactician, who expects experienced midfielder John Obi Mikel to be available despite suffering a broken hand.