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Argentina to unleash Messi on Nigeria in international friendly

Posted : 24 February 2024

The Argentina Football Association has confirmed that the current World Footballer of the Year and 2023 Ballon D'Or winner, Lionel Messi, will feature against the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the Coliseum in Los Angeles on March 26.

The match will take place four days after Argentina plays against El Salvador at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

This match will be the seventh time that the legendary Lionel Messi will feature in a football match with Nigeria after the U20 World Cup tie in 2005, the Beijing 2008 gold medal match, a friendly match in World Cup tournaments in 2010, 2014, and 2018, as well as a friendly match in Dhaka in September 2011.

The two matches were originally scheduled to be held in China but were moved as the Chinese sporting authorities reportedly canceled friendly matches featuring the World Cup champions amid a backlash against Lionel Messi’s failure to play in an Inter Miami match in Hong Kong.

Argentina was scheduled to play Nigeria in the Chinese city of Hangzhou before facing Cote d’Ivoire in Beijing, but Messi’s failure to take the field for Inter Miami in Hong Kong against a local League XI earlier this month caused widespread anger among fans.

Messi was deemed unfit to play in the friendly, which drew 40,000 fans and saw some spectators paying up to nearly HK$5,000 ($640) for a ticket.

Chinese state media, Hong Kong politicians, and fans reacted angrily three days later when the 36-year-old Argentine forward came off the bench to play in a friendly match in Tokyo against Vissel Kobe, Japan.

In a video posted on Weibo, one of China’s largest social media platforms, on Monday, eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi said his absence from the match had been caused by an inflamed adductor.


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