Ever since Argentina lost 3-0 to Croatia in their second match of Group D, the talk around the town was how Iceland will do this and do that and go through now, as they held Argentina to a draw and had impressed in Euro 2016. People were already making big plans, as to who the European side would face, if they managed to secure qualification to the next round, though they forget the most crucial thing, the “Nigeria” factor.
No one remembered the fact that most big teams had struggled in their opening fixture and so could have Nigeria with their combination play and co-ordination, though they are not the highest ranked in the tournament obviously.
Further, they forgot that this may be the debut tournament for Iceland, but Nigeria has been a nation that has been playing football and at the grand stage for quite some time now and have a lot of experience of the same.
They have quality players like Mikel, Moses,Iwobi and Iheanachoand, who play or did play in the top flight of English football for big clubs and have the experience to help them beat any side. They have talented stars like Musa in the team as well, who is at present playing for CSKA Moscow and just showed how talented he really is.
Another key thing that people could not imagine was the fact that Croatia was the team in form and beat both Nigeria and Argentina, but that did not mean that Nigeria are a bad side. It was just one off day, where they did not click and today, they just did.
If Iceland underestimated their rivals on the night, while focusing on the game against the Croatians, they were surely in for a huge surprise.
What a game of two halves. The first one was to hold out the opposition attacks and not concede, while trying to score with counter-attacking football, though there were good chances for both teams to score at times.
The second half was about pushing forward from the get-go and they did, resulting in the first Musa goal in the 49th minute of the match. This was the morale booster that was needed for them to push forward even further.
Shortly after that, they hit the post and eventually Musa fired in a second goal in the 75th minute to kill off the game. The team which had got nothing out of the first match, had secured all three points from this second match.
Everyone was either praising Croatia, mourning for Argentina or delighted with Iceland and they had forgotten about Nigeria.
Well, not anymore. The Nigerians made their country and continent proud and now, if they can beat Argentina or even secure a draw and Iceland loses to Croatia, then the African nation will go through to the round of 16.
Never underestimate anyone. This is football and your over-confidence will come back to haunt you, is the message that the world had received today. What a game!! What a performance. Nigeria, take a bow!!