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On this date, 26 June 2018, Nigeria would have qualified for the knockout stages, of Russia 2018 World Cup rather than Argentina, had Marcos Rojo not scored his late winner, four minutes to regulation time.

The late goal gave Argentina a 2-1 win in a match Nigeria needed just a draw to advance to the Round of 16. What a twist of fate! It was the same Marcos Rojo who scored a late winner against Nigeria in the same last group match exactly four years and a day earlier.

Argentina vs Nigeria: 2014 World Cup

At the time, score lines at Brazil 2014 were 2-2. But a corner kick somehow found Rojo who was the last person that touched the ball that was deflected into Nigeria’s net. The 2014 episode may not have been painful for Nigeria, as both teams advanced.

Rojo returns to seal Nigeria’s fate in 2018

But that of 2018 was disastrous. It eliminated Nigeria at a painful moment, just four minutes to regulation time. In financial calculations, the four minutes also translated to loss of $4 million as Nigeria got $8 million for group stage and could have earned $12 million, had they crossed to Round of 16.

Argentina had therefore won all five meetings with Nigeria in the World Cup finals and each by a single goal margin.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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