Messi vs Mikel Obi: When Nigeria Last Played Argentina in the FIFA U-20 World Cup

Messi vs Mikel Obi: When Nigeria Last Played Argentina in the FIFA U-20 World Cup
Credit: Iconsport

Nigeria’s U-20 side, aka the Flying Eagles, will take on the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup hosts, Argentina, in the Round of 16. This blockbuster fixture will take place on Wednesday at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario Stadium.

Argentina finished top of Group A with nine points from three games. Meanwhile, after opening their FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign with wins against Dominican Republic and Italy, the Flying Eagles lost 2-0 to Brazil in their last Group D skirmish on Saturday. The fixture meant that Brazil, Italy and Nigeria finished on six points apiece, with Nigeria finishing third. As a result, Nigeria got paired with Argentina.

The fixture will be a rematch of the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup Final that featured legendary players in their teenage years.

Argentina vs Nigeria – 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup Final

The Flying Eagles of Nigeria played Argentina at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands on July 2, 2005. The fixture saw a young Lionel Messi and Super Eagles legend John Mikel Obi compete against each other for worldwide glory.

Both players had a fantastic tournament, but the Argentine stole the show, winning the penalty for his team in the 38th minute. The Barcelona legend picked the ball from his team's half and dribbled his way to Nigeria's 18-yard box, where Dele Adeleye fouled him. Messi dispatched the spot kick, with Nigeria's goalkeeper diving the opposite way. It gave the South Americans the lead going into half-time.

Three minutes into the second half, Messi caused problems again for the Nigerians. A last-ditch block denied the FIFA World Cup 2022 winner before Nigeria equalised themselves through a powerful header by Chinedu Obasi in the 52nd minute.

John Obi Mikel was involved in the goal and played a crucial role in keeping Nigeria in the game against the mighty South Americans. However, as time wore on, Messi's influence increased, and he won Argentina a second penalty in the 73rd minute. The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner tucked away the penalty and won Argentina the crown.

Messi's performances in the tournament drew comparisons to Diego Maradona, who won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1979. The former Barcelona man won the Golden Ball as well as the Golden Boot award for his six goals in the competition, including two penalties against Nigeria in the finals.

The Best Players at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup

  1. Golden Ball: Lionel Messi
  2. Silver Ball: Mikel Obi
  3. Bronze Ball: Taiye Taiwo

Argentina at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup

Group Stage (Group D)

  • Argentina 0 – 1 United States
  • Egypt 0 – 2 Argentina
  • Argentina 1 – 0 Germany

Round of 16

  • Argentina 2 – 1 Colombia

Quarter-finals

  • Argentina 3 – 1 Spain

Semi-finals

  • Brazil 1 – 2 Argentina

Finals

  • Argentina 2 – 1 Nigeria

Nigeria at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup

Group Stage (Group F)

  • Brazil 0 – 0 Nigeria
  • Nigeria 1 – 2 South Korea
  • Nigeria 3 – 0 Switzerland

Round of 16

  • Nigeria 1 – 0 Ukraine

Quarter-finals

  • Nigeria 1 – 1 Netherlands, Nigeria winning 10 – 9 on penalties

Semi-finals

  • Morocco 0 – 3 Nigeria

Finals

  • Argentina 2 – 1 Nigeria

Expectations for the Next Argentina vs Nigeria Encounter

Argentina

The South American nation will aim to win their 7th FIFA U-20 World Cup title as they take Nigeria in the Round of 16. They'll fancy their chances against the West Africans, whom they've defeated several times in the past.

Nigeria

Nigeria is gunning for their first triumph at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, having been runners-up twice in 1989 and 2005. However, they'll face off against the same nation that broke their hearts in the 2005 finals. The Flying Eagles will begin the game as underdogs but will be eager to get their pound of flesh over the South Americans.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 year ago

Chandan is a passionate writer, editor, and marketer with a love for football. He has bylines in leading online publications and has worked with renowned sports brands like The Olympics, Fox Sports Asia, and the Indian Super League (ISL). As for the unimpressive part, he loves Chelsea.