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Friendly: Argentina vs Nigeria Preview

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Lionel Messi will look to transfer his Barcelona goalscoring form to the international stage on Tuesday when he captains Argentina against Nigeria in Bangladesh.

The prolific Barca forward produced a fine display in leading the Albicelestes to a 1-0 victory over Venezuela in Kolkata on Friday, but it was defender Nicolas Otamendi who grabbed the decisive goal with a second-half header.

 

Messi has not netted for his country since a 4-0 win against Albania in Buenos Aires in June, going the entire Copa America campaign on home soil without finding the target.

 

He admits the barren run has made him a little anxious, and he will aim to make it a thing of the past by scoring against the Super Eagles in Dhaka.

 

"I score easily for Barcelona," said the 24-year-old. "In the national team, I try in a number of ways and most of them I cannot score.

 

"Maybe I have to be calm enough to change this, and not feel pressure to score."

 

Tomorrow's friendly will be Argentina's last official encounter before they open their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign against Chile on October 7.

 

A home-based side will then play two friendlies against Brazil - on October 14 in Cordoba, Argentina, and a fortnight later in Belem, Brazil.

 

New coach Alejandro Sabella accepts the qualifying campaign will not be easy, even without the threat of of 2-14 hosts Brazil.

 

"Chile's football at present is the best ever," he said. "They are first place in South American football. Argentina and Brazil have decreased a little bit.

 

"Uruguay are enjoying their best moment in 20 years. Venezuela have improved a lot. Colombia are alive again and we should respect both Ecuador and Paraguay even though their form dipped at the Copa America."

 

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has been impressed by the impact made by Sabella since his appointment.

 

"To start a new coaching campaign is good," he said. "We played a tough Venezuelan side and did good things so in the upcoming game we have to repeat them."

 

The last friendly between Argentina and Nigeria saw the African side win 4-1 in June and they head into this match buoyed by 2-0 win over Madagascar yesterday which got their African Nations Cup qualifying campaign back on track.

 

Skipper Joseph Yobo and Obinna Nsofor netted the goals for the Super Eagles, who have collected 10 points from five matches.

 

Everton striker Victor Anichebe picked up a groin injury towards the end of the game and is unlikely to feature.

 

"It is very sad for him," said coach Samson Siasia. "He was huge for us (in the Madagascar game). He did all the rights things, played well and unfortunately had to come off in the last three minutes with an injury. But that's football.

 

"It's very unfortunate, but I hope he gets well soon so he can continue to feature for his club. That pitch was not very good and we are lucky our players did not get serious injuries."

 

 

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