Nigeria Held by Iran

It was a disappointing maiden outing for Nigeria at the Brazil 2014 World Cup as the Super Eagles, who were tipped by many analysts to defeat Iran in their first match, failed to do so.

Many who expected the Nigerians to overrun their opponents were disappointed by the team’s rather casual approach to the very important fixture that would have given them an edge going into their second game had they clinched the three points.

Although much of the match was played within the Iranian territory, especially in the first half where Nigeria enjoyed 65 percent ball possession, the Nigerian players failed to make the advantage count as the link between the midfield and the attack was poor with Mikel John Obi guilty of losing the ball a couple of times. The introduction of Shola Ameobi and Osaze Odemwengie in the second half for Victor Moses and Ramon Azeez respectively appeared to add bite to the attack, but the Eagles failed to find the back of the Iranian’s net! Instead, it was Iran that could have scored had Vincent Enyeama not saved a glancing header in the 34th minute.

The result means that Nigeria must win their next fixture against Bosnia/Herzegovina on Friday to keep hope of their chances of doing well in the competition alive. It promises to be an explosive match, as Bosnia, which lost its own match against Argentina, will be looking to redeem themselves against the African champions. But the Super Eagles know as well that anything outside victory against Bosnia will be disastrous to their chances of advancing to the next stage.

Mohammed Fajah, a Sierra Leonean journalist, told the magazine at the Arena Da Baixada, Curitiba, shortly after the match, that he wasn’t happy with the Super Eagles approach to the game. “Nigeria did not perform to expectations. Bookmakers had tipped them to win the match. But unfortunately their performance was not that good to win the game. The Iranians played better in my opinion. They should have won the match but wasted chances,” he said.

He added that, for the Super Eagles to qualify for the second round, they would need to up their game. “I think they need to improve, as there was a gap between the midfield and attack in this match. When the midfielders handle the ball, it takes time for them to release it to the attackers, so I think that is one area Stephen Keshi needs to work on. If not, the next match against Bosnia is going to be difficult. We all watched Bosnia against Argentina. Even though they lost 2-1, they were quite impressive. But, having said that, there’s still chance for Nigeria to qualify for second round because they have two matches to play against Bosnia and Argentina. But the big question is: can they do it?”

Some Nigerian fans believe it is not an impossible task. “They can do it, nothing is over until it is over,” one of them said shortly after the match.

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