The eagerly anticipated international friendly between Nigeria and Argentina has been robbed of some star power after it emerged that Lionel Messi will not be on parade at the Krasnodar Stadium, Krasnodar, in a fortnight.
This was carried by popular Argentine Daily, which said the manager of the two-time world champions Jorge Sampaoli has opted not to field his talismanic skipper against the Super Eagles.
According to the report, Messi, whose treble ensured Argentina will be at the 2018 World Cup, will only feature against host country Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow on November 11.
Five-time World Player of the Year Messi has been brilliant for Barcelona this term, netting 16 goals as the Catalans remain unbeaten in all competitions, and he may have demanded for some rest after a hectic couple of weeks.
This same scenario played out during the Albiceleste’s last international friendlies against Brazil (June 9) and Singapore (June 13), when Messi went the distance against the Seleção but was omitted from the matchday squad against the Asians.
Over the years, Lionel Messi has been a thorn in the side of Nigerian national teams, having scored five goals in six clashes, including a brace in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Three-time African champions Nigeria remain unchanged from previous sides, with the key player injured Chelsea wing-back Victor Moses missing from the tie.