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2010 World Cup - Nigeria Draws Argentina, South Korea and Greece

Published on Sunday 6th December 2009

In what appears to be a repeat of the 1994 and 2002 editions of the FIFA World Cup, Nigeria last night was drawn alongside Argentina, South Korea and Greece in Group B for the global football fiesta to be hosted by South Africa next year.

The grouping means the Super Eagles will once again battle the Argentines following the 1994 and 2002 group stage fixtures.

During Nigeria's World Cup outing in the US in 1994, the Super Eagles took on Argentina, Greece and Bulgaria which all played in the same group.

The substitution of Bulgaria with South Korea has made the difference this time.

Eagles lost by 2-1 to the Argentine team led by Diego Amando Maradona in 1994 and lost by 1-0 in the Korea/Japan World Cup eight years later.

When Nigeria first clashed with Greece at the World Cup in 1994, it beat the European team 2-0.

In 2010, Maradona will again face the Eagles this time as possibly the coach of the South American team. And as in 2002, Nigeria will play the first match against Argentina inspired this time by Lionel Messi.

The draws made in South Africa last night is seen as being fair enough for the Eagles, especially when compared to the heavyweight Group G that has Brazil, North Korea, Cote d'Ivoire and Portugal all vying to qualify for the second round.

Super Eagles coach Shaibu Amodu who spoke at the venue said he is optimistic that his team would scale through to the next round.

"The fact is that there is no small team at the World Cup any more; every thing must be taken seriously. If we work very hard, we should be able to beat Argentina and all other teams in the group," he told SuperSport.

On the details of the group fixtures, Amodu said the arrangement is perfect for the Eagles.

"It is good to start with Argentina and then every other team follows. It's fair that way. But I don't want us to talk about only Argentina because there are also two other teams in the group and they are good too.

"They didn't get there by chance and we must recognise that fact and take them the same way we look at Argentina."

France, the 1998 champions and 2006 runners-up, were drawn in the same group as hosts South Africa in Group A.

South Africa will meet Mexico in the opening match at the Soccer City stadium in Johann-esburg on June 11 in the 32-nation tournament which finishes with the final on July 11 in the same stadium. Former World Cup winners Uruguay are the fourth member of Group A.

The toughest looking section, known in football parlance as the "Group of Death", features five times winner Brazil, Portugal, Cote d'Ivoire and North Korea in Group G. Holders, Italy, meet Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia in Group F.

South Africa staged a slick and glitzy ceremony for the draws, with former President Nelson Mandela saying his country was humbled to host the soccer spectacular for the first time on the continent.

Africa's biggest economy has shrugged off persistent scepticism about its ability to stage the world's most watched sporting event and pulled out all the stops for the draw for the first round matches among the 32 teams.

Organisers fielded three Nobel Prize winners including Mandela, Africa's most respected statesman, while its famous actress, Oscar winner, Charlize Theron, hosted the draw.

International soccer greats, including England's David Beckham and former players Eusebio of Portugal, Roger Milla of Cameroon, Germany's Franz Beckenbauer and France's Michel Platini, who is the UEFA president, were also present.

As promised, the ceremony, watched by an estimated world television audience of 250 million from 200 countries, had a distinctly continental flavour with African dance troupes and singers fronted by Angelique Kidjo from Benin.

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