Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback admitted that he was not counting on Argentina to do them any favours in their unlikely bid to qualify for the second round of the FIFA World Cup™.
The Super Eagles need to beat South Korea by at least two goals and hope that Group B table-toppers Argentina beat Greece to ensure qualification after so far racking up two losses: 1-0 against Argentina and 2-1 against the Greeks.
Lagerback, with more than 20 years involved in the Sweden national set-up behind him before joining Nigeria, said that you could always expect the unexpected in football - within reason. "We can but hope Argentina help us along the road," the Swede said. "What I know from all my years in football is that nothing is impossible. Of course, Greece can beat Argentina, but I don't expect that."
He added: "We have a chance for a good result against South Korea. It should be a very positive and interesting game tomorrow. We need help from Argentina, but all we can do is concentrate on our game. The attitude in the squad is very good. I'm very positive about the game."
Lagerback said he had been "rather satisfied" with the performance of his team to date. "A big part of the the performance against Argentina was very good, and in the first 30 minutes against Greece we played exactly as we wanted to, until the red card changed the game. We were unlucky not to get a draw against Greece."
With alleged death threats having been made against Sani Kaita for that match-turning red card against the Greeks, Fulham midfielder Dickson Etuhu insisted that the team had rallied around the player. "The team spirit is unbelievable. We're all together and looking forward to the game tomorrow," Etuhu said. "You have to move on and hope we have the right people to handle threats.
"We want to win and we're all on the same road. We'll respect our opponent, but it's our cup final. It might not be pretty, but we've got to get the result. The players are not happy about not getting a result. The fact is that we've still got a chance to qualify, with help from Argentina."
The odds are also high for South Korea, who kicked off their group campaign with a 2-0 win over Greece, but then crashed 4-1 to Argentina to leave them second in the standings. A victory over Nigeria would ensure them a place in the knock-out phase, but a draw would leave them relying on Argentina beating Greece. A defeat would mean a flight home to Seoul.