Like Maradona, like Messi? Super Eagles could send superstar to international exile

Messi's international career is on the line along with his hopes of winning the World Cup when Argentina face Nigeria on Tuesday.

Maradona will be sat in the Saint PetersburgStadium on Tuesday, June 30 flouting stadium rules and regulations again as he cheers Argentina against the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

The 57-year-old will be watching his successor, Lionel Messi make a last-ditch attempt to not only lead Argentina to a first World Cup title since 1986 but write his own name in the history books of Argentine football.

Maradona was the captain for Argentina and score five goals including the infamous ‘Hand of God goal as well as another voted ‘Goal of the Century’ when Argentina last won the FIFA World Cup in 1986.

32 years later, Argentina are yet to win another World Cup and while Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time, the one flaw to his legacy is the failure to win the title.

The bare in his trophy cabinet has become a huge burden on Messi and against Nigeria, he has the chance of reigniting the hope of getting one.

It has been a hideous World Cup so far for Messi, without a goal in two games, a missed penalty and Argentina still without a win.

After the embarrassing 3-0 loss to Croatia in matchday-two, only a win against Nigeri-depending on what happens in the other Group D match between Iceland and Croatia-can get Argentina to the round of 16.

Messi has enjoyed fixtures against Nigeria, from his two goals, all via penalty, in the final of the 2005 U-20 FIFA World Cup. He was on the winning side in the final of the football event of the 2008 Olympic Games.

In Brazil 2014, he scored a brace in a 3-2 win over Nigeria in the Group stage. He will be hoping for similar outcomes when he lines up against Nigeria at Saint Petersburg Stadium in Russia.

While a place in the round of 16 is on the line for Argentina, for Messi, it’s even deeper.

Retirement beckoning

Argentina had just lost the final of the 2016 Copa America Centenario to Chile via penalty shoot-out when Messi announced his resignation from the national team.

The loss was Messi’s second consecutive defeat in the final of the Copa America, his third consecutive defeat in a final, from Brazil 2014 and fourth in his international career.

Derided and vilified by the media in Argentina and with the pressure of the whole country getting too much to shoulder, Messi decided to step away.

A massive campaign in Argentina along with a plea from the president Mauricio Macri, Messi changed his mind and returned to international duties.

Like Diego Maradona

It was at the Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts, United States that Argentine iconic football figure Maradona failed a drug test for ephedrine doping which ended his international career.

The then Argentina No10 had just finished playing the full 90 minutes against Nigeria in a Group D game when he failed the drug test.

He was sent home from the World Cup afterwards and that was the end of his international career.

Deja vu?

Maradona has cut a forlorn figure in the stands as he watched Argentina struggle against Iceland and take in misery against Croatia.

A similar display against Nigeria would be the end for them at the World Cup and could be the wind-up of an era.

At the age of 31, this is very likely to be Messi’s last World Cup and there is a wild feeling that he would end his international career again if Argentina do not win the World Cup.

So just like Maradona’s international career ended after a game against Nigeria, Tuesday clash against the Super Eagles could spell the end of another iconic era for Argentina


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