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World Cup views from Tokyo, Group D: Nigeria, Iceland, Croatia and Argentina

by Megha Wadhwa and Ben Stubbings

Contributing Writers

As the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off, The Japan Times got the lowdown from Japan-based supporters of some of the 32 teams fighting it out for the ultimate prize in Russia.

Today, group D:

Anthony Enema (Nigerian)

Who’s your team’s man to watch?

My favorite team player in the Super Eagles now is Victor Moses. Moses is a winger and he plays for Chelsea Football Club in England. He is a very, very talented guy and he is very, very fast. He runs with the ball, and he knows how to play the ball from the wing to the box. We are hoping he is going to deliver a lot of balls into the box where the attackers there can score goals. So, he’s my favorite player in the Super Eagles national team now.

Which World Cup game are you most looking forward to?

Well, that’s a very great question. In football, all games in the World Cup are always special. But if you ask me, you never know what will happen after the group stages. But in the group stages there are two games that I’m looking forward to watching, and that is the game between my country: Nigeria Super Eagles vs. Argentina.

We always meet Argentina in the group stages of the World Cup and we have not been very lucky. But a little while ago we had a friendly game against Argentina and we did very well. I’m looking forward to that game and I hope we’ll be able to stand up to them and possibly win.

The second game I’m looking forward to watching is between Spain and Portugal. And these are two giant football nations. So those are the games I’m looking forward to.

How far do you expect your team and Japan to go?

I’m hoping that the Super Eagles of Nigeria will be able to go up to the semifinals and this is why: In this national team right now we have a lot of young players — very, very young and talented players. And for those who may not know, by the way, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have started winning, because we have been voted the most fashionable team in Russia after the team landed in Russia. So, they are being celebrated by FIFA now as the best team where they were well-dressed and they looked gorgeous.

But aside from that they are very good, they play very well and they didn’t lose any game during the qualifying rounds, and we are very optimistic that they will go very very far. But in football you never know, anything can happen.

Let me say that the Japan national team happens to be a little bit lucky, because they are in the group that’s not so dreaded. They have a very good team, so I believe that they are going to go at least till the second round of the competition.

So who’s going to win?

In this World Cup in Russia, a lot of things could happen. There are many great teams — like Spain has a very good team, Germany the defending champion, their team is always very good — but if I’m to predict, which is what I’m going to do now, I’m betting on Brazil. Brazil has a very, very good squad right now, and I think they really, really, really want to get to the top of the world in football, so I’m placing my bet on the Brazilian national team to win the World Cup.

Höskuldur Hrafn Guttormsson (Icelandic)

Who’s your team’s man to watch?

The player to watch is, of course, Gylfi Sigurdsson, who is one of the best in the team, a good midfield player who will definitely do good things in this tournament.

Which World Cup game are you most looking forward to?

The match I’m most looking forward to seeing is the first game that Iceland is playing, Iceland vs. Argentina, which is gonna be a really exciting match but also really, really nerve-wracking.

How far do you expect your team and Japan to go?

So, obviously Iceland is starting off in a really difficult group, we’re starting off facing Argentina, but hopefully we will get through that group to the semifinals, but we’ll see. Japan, they have a really strong team and I think they will go far in this tournament as well.

So who’s going to win?

The World Cup? I have to say Argentina, because if we’re not gonna win at least it’s gonna be someone that got there ahead of us.

Edvard Vondra (Croatia)

Who’s your team’s man to watch?

My favorite player is Andrej Kramaric because he used to be very good in my hometown in Rijeka. I’m looking forward to his performance in this World Cup.

Which World Cup game are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to watching the game between Argentina and Croatia. I think it will be a very interesting game because Argentina is maybe the best team and Croatia can show how strong or weak it is at the moment.

How far do you expect your team and Japan to go?

I hope Croatia will pass the first round and Japan as well. And everything else is just… if you have luck, maybe the quarterfinals. And for Japan, fingers crossed as well.

So who’s going to win?

I believe now it’s Brazil, because of the last time when Germany beat Brazil 7-1. Now they want revenge, so I believe Brazil will be the world champions.

Pablo Zorgniotti (Argentine)

Who’s your team’s man to watch?

My favorite player, as everybody knows or can imagine, is Lionel Messi. For me, he’s the best player in the world and Argentina changes a lot with him — or without him, Argentina almost doesn’t exist, so we depend a lot on him.

Which World Cup game are you most looking forward to?

The match I’m looking forward to — if we can win the match — is to win against Brazil. But it’s always very difficult to beat the Brazilians.

How far do you expect your team and Japan to go?

If Argentina passes the first phase, which is very difficult for them, it becomes a dangerous team, a difficult team to play against. They have a lot of experience in World Cups, which maybe other teams don’t have, and know how to manage this kind of pressure, and it becomes very dangerous to play against in the quarter- or semifinals. If they pass they can they can reach the final, yes.

Japan, for them they’re going to be very happy if they pass the first phase, which I think they have some possibility of doing. Because they have Colombia, Senegal and Poland, I believe, and as they have already lost once against Colombia, I don’t think they’re going to beat them. But dealing with Senegal and Poland, maybe they’ll go through.

So who’s going to win?

I think the World Cup is always kind of the same candidates: Brazil, of course, Germany, maybe Spain, and if Argentina passes the first phase, which looks very difficult for them, then it becomes a dangerous team and we can fight.

Interested in gathering views in your neighborhood or just have something to say? Email community@japantimes.co.jp