Abuja - Nigeria’s Super Eagles were on Friday at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final Draw in Salvador, Brazil drawn alongside two-times winners Argentina, Iran and debutants Bosnia-Hercegovina in Group F.
The draw has thus pitched old foes together, making it a third consecutive and fourth-ever time both sides were being paired at the first round group stage of the competition.
Nigeria made their World Cup debut in 1994 in the U.S., under Clemens Westerhof’s guidance, and were in Group D alongside the 1978 and 1986 winners.
But they lost the June 25 Matchday Two clash 1-2 at Boston’s Foxboro Stadium, even though they still went on to win the group with six points from two wins in three games.
The team’s present head coach, Stephen Keshi, was on the reserve bench then as a substitute, while now assistant coach Daniel Amokachi was on the starting line-up.
They met again in 2002 at South Korea/Japan, with Argentina again triumphing 1-0 in a Group F match on June 2 at Ibaraki in Japan.
The team’s present goalkeepers’ trainer, Ike Shorounmu was in goal then, with goalkeepers Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide on the bench and Joseph Yobo on the starting line-up.
They were back together in 2010 at South Africa, with Argentina winning their Group B encounter on June 12 in Johannesburg 1-0. Both sides also have a richer history of meetings in other FIFA-organised competitions at other levels, with the south Americans having an edge.
Nigeria has however not met either of Iran and Bosnia-Hercegovina at the World Cup.
In the other pairings, defending champions Spain and the Netherlands will try to give a replay of the 2010 final in South Africa when they meet in Group B. But with Chile and Australia joining them, this may be the proverbial "group of death" at the 20th FIFA World Cup finals.
Two-times champions Uruguay, four-times winners Italy, 1966 winners England and Costa Rica will comprise another intriguing pool in Group D.
Group G will see U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann squaring up with his former assistant Joachim Low, now in charge of Germany, the country he played for many times in an illustrious career.
Ghana, who barely missed making it to the semi-finals in 2010, and Portugal will make up Group G, where the Boateng brothers, Jerome and Kevin-Prince will likely face off.
Hosts Brazil have Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon to contend with in Group A, while Colombia, Greece, Cote d’Ivoire and Japan are in Group C.
Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras and France are also in Group E, while Group H has Belgium, Algeria, Russia and South Korea.
The Final Draw took place at the luxurious Costa do Sauípe in Salvador, and it was conducted by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke.
He was assisted by Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Alcides Ghiggia, Fernando Hierro, Sir Geoff Hurst, Mario Kempes, Lothar Matthaus and Zinedine Zidane, who were representing the eight World Cup winners.
Brazil and Croatia will participate in the opening match at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014. However, Germany will become the first team to reach 100 World Cup matches when they face Portugal five days later.
The final match will hold at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.