Nigeria are only too aware that Lionel Messi is not the only danger man in Argentina's ranks ahead of their FIFA World Cup™ opener against the South American giants.

The Super Eagles will also face Korea Republic and Greece in Group B, but right now the focus is Saturday's showdown at Ellis Park against Diego Maradona's Argentina – and that man Messi.

"Messi's [...] a good player and we respect him. We hope he respects us too. We're not thinking about Messi, we're thinking about playing against Argentina, a good team," said Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni of the Barcelona playmaker.

Nigeria's run-up to the finals has been hit by injury to John Obi Mikel, their Chelsea midfielder, but coach Lars Lagerback was adamant that his team could overcome the setback. "Of course you want the best players in Nigeria to participate in the squad," the Swede said.

"I would love to have Mikel in the squad, he's had a fantastic season with Chelsea and the Super Eagles, but that's football, all teams have injuries. It's been a long season for a lot of the players and unfortunately for Mikel, after his operation it didn't work as we hoped."

Lagerback oversaw his first win as Nigeria coach on Sunday, a 3-1 win over fellow FIFA World Cup qualifiers Korea DPR, overshadowed by a crowd stampede. It was a third friendly warm-up, Lagerback's team having also eked out a goalless draw with Saudi Arabia and a 1-1 draw with Colombia.

"What the players have done in this last week is great. They've improved all the time and worked very hard," said the coach who was involved with the Swedish national team for two decades. "In general, it was a good game [against the North Koreans]. The players are working hard and performing and now we can focus on this week's game against Argentina, and we're looking forward to this."

Everton defender Joseph Yobo said the result against the Korea DPR had provided a timely tonic. "It was a big morale-booster for us," Yobo said. "It was our last friendly game. It was also a good test because we're playing South Korea and we enjoyed the game. We needed confidence ahead of the Argentina game and scoring three goals is a good boost."

Lagerback also justified the choice of their base, in the relative industrial obscurity of South Africa's leading bulk export port of Richards Bay. Nigeria are just one of a handful of teams who have spurned a chance of a high-altitude base, but Lagerback said the advantages of warmth had triumphed.

"I checked it [the advantage of altitude] up to a year ago. We talked to a lot of specialists about it. There is a slight physiological advantage, but it's a very small thing," said the Swede. Much better, he said, was the "psychological advantage" his team would have from being able to bask in temperatures of 29 degrees (84F) during the day.