Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback insists his side have no plans to do "a special job" on Lionel Messi. The Swede, who will tomorrow take charge of his first competitive match as coach of the African side, is trying to devise a tactical plan which involves his team limiting the ability of Argentina's stars to perform, but is adamant that will not involve an attempt to mark - or kick - Messi out of the game.
Lagerback said: "We are playing Argentina, not Messi. So there will be no player given the special job to mark him."
Lagerback led Sweden to a 1-1 draw against Argentina in the 2002 FIFA World Cup™, a result which denied the South Americans a place in the last 16, and he is now hoping to repeat the trick at the helm of the Super Eagles.
"When you play really good teams like Argentina with a lot of really good individuals, you have to have a very good team performance, otherwise you don't win," he said.
"But for me football is a combination between the individual skills you have in the team and to try to organise the team as good as possible. When we have the ball we want to attack as much as possible, but of course with brains. But when we don't have the ball, we have to defend. And if the opponents are better, then we have to defend more than we attack."
Nigeria forward Obafemi Martins has warned it would be folly to focus solely on stopping Messi when Argentina have so many other players capable of winning the match at Ellis Park.
The former Newcastle man said: "People talk a lot about Messi, forgetting that there are other very good players in the Argentinian team, such as Carlos Tevez and Diego Milito. It's a team game and we also have our own stars for the day. It is an important match for all of us," He said.