Hello there, folks, Bryan Sakakeeny here providing you with whistle to whistle coverage of the Argentina-Nigeria Group B match.
Broadcasting from the comfort of my own couch on the east coast of the USA, kick-off is a feasible 9:30am EST. Cheers to all of you west coast people that are sacrificing your Saturday mornings just to get a glimpse of Lionel Messi in action.
For all of you Yanks and Brits, don't start the drinking too early as we have a cracking match in prospect this morning. Argentina, one of the heavy favorites to make a deep run in the World Cup draws a formidable, and familiar opponent to start with in Nigeria. The Super Eagles, who finished third in the 2010 African Cup of Nations, are one of the handful of African teams vying for World Cup glory on their own soil.
If you have a few moments before kick-off, check out the match preview and prediction, expertly done by B/R's soccer writer extaordinaire Colm Larkin, here
For those of you not near a TV, I'll be providing all the banter and ramblings you need to stay up to date on all the match's happenings. If you do have access to a TV, feel free to follow along and chime in with your thoughts. Lord knows I'll be here the whole time, so at least you'll have one person to talk to.
Enjoy the match!
11:52- Argentina is looking to mail it in at this point.
11:49- Four minutes to be added on.
11:48- Milito and Messi with a lovely bit of skill, Diego finds Messi in the box but Lionel can't get his touches right, wasted chance to put the nail in the coffin.
11:47- Argentina looks content to sit on the ball.
11:44- Uche and Yakubu both had half chances off of decent shots, neither can convert. Nigeria is running out of opportunities.
11:43- SUBSTITUTION Burdisso on for Di Maria, both teams are out of substitutions.
11:40- Martins delivers a bouncing cross on the ensuing possession. Uche makes a meal of a practically open net.
11:39- Messi plays a little one two with Di Maria. Enyeama equal to the task again. What a stud
11:36- Martins with a stinger of a shot for Nigeria, beaten away by Romero. SUBSTITUTION Milito is subbed on for Higuain, the stink fest is over for Gonzalo.
11:35- Yellow card to Haruna on the ensuing possession.
11:34- Haruna takes a corner for Nigeria and curls it out of play. Wait, what?
11:33- SUBSTITUTION Uche replaces Taiwo.
11:32- SUBSTITUTION Maxi is on for Veron. Messi's free kick is well high of the mark.
11:31- Messi trying to operate, he's taken down from behind. Dangerous free kick for Argentina.
11:30- Taiwo looks hurt after blasting that shot, sub to come on soon I'm sure of it.
11:28- Nice attack for Nigeria, Odemwingie feeds Taiwo from the left who gets a hit at it. Powerful shot, nearly nicks the post on its way past Romero.
11:27- Two successive corners for Argentina. Second finds the foot of Veron, tough volley for the holding midfielder, it sails wayy over the bar.
11:26- Brilliantly skilled build up from Messi and co. Higuain again with an awful shot on the end of it.
11:24- Higuain with another quick chance, stopped by Enyeama. Odemwingie expertly runs the counterattack, that is until his second touch in the 18 sends the ball spinning out of play. Wasted chance for the Super Eagles.
11:23- Tevez finds a slicing Messi, pass it a bit late and Messi curls it wide.
11:22- Uh, oh! Tevez on the counterattack! Numbers for Argentina
11:22- Yakubu makes a nice run down the left side, attack results in a corner.
11:20- Free kick in a good position for the Nigerians, delivery isn't all that great, follow up from Taiwo goes out for a goal kick.
11:18- Odemwingie contributes right away, releasing Martins off of the corner clearance. Martins centers to Kaita who fires it high.
11:17- SUBSTITUTION Odemwingie replaces Obasi, shame to see him go off he's played with great pace on the outside, but all in all not a real surprising substitution.
11:17- Messi with a long, spirited run. He gets to the left of the goal and fires a shot, it's blocked and out for another corner.
11:15- Argentina opts for the short corner this time, nicely weighted cross into the area but it's cleared away after some confusion.
11:14- Messi releases Higuain nicely, but the Nigerian skipper Yobo takes it away beautifully, cleared out for a corner.
11:12- Diego shows us some fancy footwork on the sidelines. I wonder if he's on drugs? Too soon?
11:11- SUBSTITUTION Martins comes on to a raucous reception from the Nigerian fans. He replaces Obinna.
11:10- Again, Veron finds a free head, this time it's Walter Samuel. How many headers can Argentina squander?
11:09- Tevez streaks down the middle and chips a ball to Higuain on the right side, blocked by Yobo and out for a corner.
11:08- Nigeria content to just sit back at the moment, hmmm.
11:07- Messi engineers another attack, Veron crosses from the right wing, Messi gets a cute touch on it with the left foot in the middle but pushes it wide.
11:05- ESPN stats informing us that Nigeria has not scored a second half WC goal since 1998. Consequently, Argentina haven't lost a WC match when leading at the half since 1930.
11:05- Nigeria looks to have a bit of pep in their step for the second half, moving well around the pitch.
11:03- Second half is underway.
11:02- Is it just me? Or does Argentina look a bit restless in the tunnell?
10:53- As dangerous as Argentina looks on the attack, they look equally as shaky at the back. Nigeria definitely has a chance to equalize, however the key will be if they can knot things up before Argentina bags a second goal.
10:46- There's the halftime whistle, Argentina take a 1-0 lead into the break.
10:45- Not a great effort from Veron, he sails it high. One minute of stoppage time is tacked on.
10:45- Messi is sent to the carpet, free kick on the corner of the box for Argentina.
10:42- Taiwo with a searching cross into the area, Romero off his line to punch it away.
10:41- Gutierrez with a wild tackle on Obasi, he's shown a yellow card.
10:38- Short corner is played badly and given away.
10:37- Messi slides a free kick from the right wing to the middle of the pitch to Mascherano, it's returned back to him at the edge of the box. Another curling shot from Messi is tipped away by Enyeama, corner to Argentina.
10:35- Taiwo with another opportunistic free kick, again Argentina can't clear it on the first touch. Romero is out confidently to deal with the loose ball.
10:32- I wonder if people ever get tired of blowing vuvuzelas? I certainly get tired of hearing them, it's like the game is being played in a massive beehive.
10:32- I'll be really interested to see if Maradona can smooth out Argentina's defensive lapses at the break.
10:28- Obasi again leaves Gutierrez for dead, poor touches cost him a golden chance to equalize. Nigeria has been relentless in chasing this game.
10:27- The Argentine wall is up to Taiwo's thunderous attempt.
10:26- Free kick for Nigeria in a threatening position.
10:24- Quick shot from Kaita at the edge of the 18, but it is unbelievably wide.
10:23- He looks okay. More poor marking from Nigeria on the ensuing cross, Samuel is there but heads the ball directly into the ground and over the bar.
10:22- Enyeama slow to get up after Higuain's shot hit in square in the midriff, Nigeria will be praying that he doesn't have to leave the match.
10:21- Tevez finds Higuain on the right side of the box, again Gonzalo squanders it. Enyeama is playing out of his skin.
10:19- Just learned that the last time Argentina scored first and lost in a WC was 1958. Let's see if Maradona can blow it haha.
10:18- Again Messi! Cutting in from the right flank and delivering a curling shot, again Enyeama is up to the task.
10:16- Messi again posing a threat on a run from a Veron delivery, collected confidently by Enyeama.
10:14- Obasi with a hopeful shot off a half volley from a Taiwo throw, it's been choppy play at the back for both sides today. More goals to come.
10:12- Nigeria continuing to make headway down the flanks, despite being behind early
10:11- Disappointing cross, easily dealt with by the Argentina defense.
10:10- Obinna blows by Samuel, only to deliver a speculative ground cross, corner to Nigeria
10:06- GOAL! Veron delivers a dangerous cross, Heinze is on the end of it with a laser of a header. Questionable defending by the Super Eagles. Argentina lead 1-0
10:05- Tevez finds Messi who has a go from 20 or so yards out. First class stop from Enyeama to deny him.
10:04- Messi with a mesmerizing run into the box, slotted across nicely for Higuain, who can't convert the chance.
10:02- Searching cross to Obasi, who attempts a shot from a tough angle, it sails wide
10:01- Messi wreaking havoc early, emphatic first touch.
10:00- And we're off!
9:58- National anthems over, let's blow this popsicle stand.
9:55- Dios mio! That's a ton of Argentina fans.
9:54- Nice threads, Maradona.
9:52- Adrian Healey<3
9:47- Lots of pressure on Mascherano today, Nigeria could cause real problems if they can counterattack effectively with three across the top.
9:42- Does anyone know who the hot twins are in the ESPN mobile commercial? It's driving me bonkers.
9:39- South Korea with a great result today, if Nigeria draws today Group B could turn out to be very interesting.
9:35- Alexi Lalas, get off my TV.
9:27- We're live from Ellis Park/my couch.
9:22- Nigeria starts with a surprising 4-3-3 formation. National star Dickson Etuhu will be charged with the task of smothering Lionel Messi today all by himself on the left side. Three men across the top suggest Nigeria will be keen to go forward and not stack the midfield, we'll see if Argentina can exploit them on the counterattack.
9:19- Maradona electing to play a 4-2-3-1 in his World Cup coaching debut with Juan Veron and Javier Mascherano in a double holding position at the back of the midfield. Messi and Di Maria play the wings with Tevez the center forward, backing up lone striker Gonzalo Higuain.
9:13- Starting lineups
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