Super Eagles set to face Argentina in China

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will take on World Champions Argentina in an international friendly billed for March 2024 in China.

Argentina, who are also the current champions of South America will be using the games as tune-up for the defense of their continental title later this summer.

Led by the current FIFA Best Player and Ballon D'or winner Lionel Messi, the Argentines have confirmed that they will be going to Asia to face African opposition that includes Nigeria and AFCON 2024 hosts Ivory Coast.

Previous reports had shown that the Argentine Football Association (AFA) was planning a trip to Asia where La Albiceleste would play against China, before going on to face a lowly ranked European side.

However, the AFA has now confirmed that “its opponents will be Nigeria and Ivory Coast in March”.

Super Eagles set to face Argentina
Photo by Icon Sport

Some reports had suggested that the change in plans was because the AFA was desperate to get an opposition and pick up a nice pay cheque.

Lionel Scaloni's men will play both teams during their tour of China from March 18 to 26, taking advantage of the FIFA international window with the first game billed for the Olympics Sports Center stadium in the city of Hangzhou against Nigeria.

Meanwhile the second match against Ivory Coast will be played at the Workers' Stadium in Beijing. The exact dates for the matches are still to be confirmed.

Moreover, Argentina's coach had only confirmed some days ago that he will continue at the helm, at least until the Copa America.

Scaloni raised doubts about his future as head coach, and some of his alleged complaints were the association's scheduling of matches and the quality of opponents, particularly the national team's friendly matches.

The Asian continent has favoured La Albiceleste in the past

It was on this continent that they lifted the world Cup trophy in 2022 when it was hosted by Qatar.

Also on their last Asian tour in 2023, the Albiceleste defeated Australia 2-0 in Beijing and registered the same scoreline against Indonesia in Jakarta. 

Argentina have been drawn in Group A and will face Peru, Chile and Canada or Trinidad & Tobago for the forthcoming Copa America that will be hosted by the United States of America.

The Football Association also confirmed that it had renewed its exclusive commercial rights with Chinese outfit Wanda Sports Agency for the year 2024 and also plans to play more games in Asia with India and Kolkata as likely destinations.

Argentina celebrates winning
Photo by Icon Sport

Mutual respect between Argentina and Nigeria's Super Eagles

Nigeria and Ivory Coast are credible teams from the African continent, and are both well advanced in the ongoing AFCON 2024 with both sides eyeing the title come February 11th at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.

Although there has been no confirmations yet from the football federations of both participating nations, it is left to be seen what the Argentines stand to gain from both friendlies if their aim is to defend their Copa America title.

Nigeria will be hoping to go into that friendly as ‘the new African Champions’ provided they can go all the way in Ivory Coast.

The Super Eagles and the Albiceleste have met nine times in the past with Argentina registering six victories, Nigeria emerged victorious on two occasions while one of their skirmishes ended in a stalemate.

Five of the previous encounters between both nations were played at the FIFA World Cups in 1994, 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018.

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Rotimi Akindele

Rotimi Akindele is a Sports Journalist with almost two decades' experience. He is a TV and radio host, commentator and writer who has covered major sporting events across the globe. Akindele's sports content has been listened to and read by a global audience. He is a well-known figure within Nigeria and the African football scene.