Argentine defender Nicolas Burdisso has declared Saturday’s World Cup opener against the Super Eagles in Johannesburg a must win encounter for the South Americans if they are to have a successful campaign in South Africa.
The Albiceleste are one of the favourites for the World Cup, and are widely expected to qualify from Group B where they have for company Nigeria, Greece and South Korea. Argentina’s quest for a third World Cup title, and their first since 1986, begins on Saturday with a tie against the Super Eagles at Ellis Park and most pundits expect them to secure a win against a Nigerian side that has always lost to South American opposition at the World Cup.
Nigeria’s South American hoodoo
The Super Eagles lost 2-1 to Argentina at their debut World Cup appearance in 1994 before losing 3-1 to another South American side, Paraguay four years later at France 98. This was followed by a 1-0 loss to the Argentines in both sides opening match of the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, where the Super Eagles and the Albicelestes failed to advance beyond the first round. Despite parading a star studded side and playing a brand of football that was pleasing to the eye, it was the first time since the 1962 tournament in Chile that the Argentines didn’t qualify for the knockout rounds of the World Cup.
And as they get set to meet the Super Eagles for the third time in the World Cup, Inter Milan defender Burdisso has told his team-mates that victory over the Nigerian side, and not playing well is all that matters, even though he admits it will be a difficult task getting a win over the Super Eagles.
Win first, entertain later
“I give more value to starting the tournament with a win than to playing well,” said Burdisso in an interview with Fifa.com. “There is a lot of anxiety and to start with a win would mean a lot to us. We must win our first game and although it will be difficult, we have to know that a good result is all that matters.”
The Argentines, who are in South Africa with a team comprising of some of the best players on the planet such as current World and European Player of the Year, Lionel Messi; Real Madrid’s leading scorer from the just concluded season, Gonzalo Higuain; and Inter Milan’s Champions League final hero, Diego Milito. There’s also Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez, Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano, as well as Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero who is the son in-law of their superstar coach Diego Maradona.