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nvsi     The Super Eagles of Nigeria will rumble with Iran in their Group F opening fixture at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba today, Monday 16th June 2014. The teams last met in an international friendly in 1998 which Nigeria won by a lone goal from winger, Garba Lawal. The meeting is the first between both countries at the World Cup stage. This is Nigeria’s fifth World Cup whilst the Iranians are appearing in their fourth World Cup finals and their first since the 2006 edition in Germany. Iran go into the game as underdogs but Nigeria has a history of not rising up to the occasion which makes the game an interesting one to watch. Nigeria will be hoping to emulate the 1994 and 1998 squads that reached the second round of the competition. However, their pre-World Cup friendlies have been marred by poor performance from the lads, with two draws and a loss in three games. Goals have also been hard to come by for the Stephen Keshi-led team, with just three goals in three games. Their goal scoring woes may be compounded by the Iranians’ mean defence, which let in just five goals in 10 Asian qualifying games. Iran, led by the experienced Carlos Queiroz and his assistant Edu, is not known for their attacking prowess but are capable of causing the Super Eagles problems by keeping things tight at the back and floating crosses in from the flanks; Nigerian fullbacks must be on the alert to thwart such danger. Nigeria finished bottom of their group at the 2010 World Cup after letting the South Koreans and Greeks slip through their fingers on the back of a loss to the Argentines in their opening fixture. Nevertheless, this is a much changed Nigerian side, which defied all odds to lift their third African Nations Cup last year. Super Eagles will be hoping to better their poor record at the World Cup, with just one win, two draws and six losses. Their last win was against Bulgaria in their second fixture at France 98. Team Melli are currently the top Asian team but have a horrid World Cup record as well with the victory against the United States, their only success at this stage. They have scored just six times in nine World Cup games, conceding 18 times. Both managers prefer the 4-2-3-1 formation, with two deep lying midfielders supporting the defence and three attacking midfielders supporting the lone striker.   INTERESTING FACTS:
  • Vincent Enyeama kept more clean sheets (21 for Lille) than any other keeper in the top European leagues in 2013/2014 season.
  • John Obi Mikel will make his World Cup debut if he is selected to play, after missing the 2010 edition through injury.
  • Iran let in just five goals and scored 30 goals in the 2014 Asian World Cup qualifiers, more than any other team.
  • Iranian coach, Carlos Queiroz has coached Real Madrid, Portugal and South Africa. He also served as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United for five years.
  • Nigeria has the longest winless streak of the 32 teams competing in Brazil; they are yet to win in 8 World Cup games since 1998 (2 draws, 6 losses).
  • Super Eagles’ captain Joseph Yobo is the most capped player in history of Super Eagles with 96 caps to his name. However, Vincent Enyeama is hot on his heels with 91 caps and may surpass him if Super Eagles get to the knock-out stages of the competition.
  • Nigeria and Ivory Coast are the only teams to be undefeated in African World Cup qualifying series.
  • Team Melli are undefeated in their last four friendlies prior to the World Cup with one win and three draws, in contrast to Nigeria’s record of 2 draws and a loss in theirs.
  • Security has been heightened in Curitiba ahead of the game because of the security profile of both teams.
  Probable team list: Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Vincent Enyeama; Efe Ambrose, Kenneth Omeruo, Godfrey Oboabona, Juwon Oshaniwa ; John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi; Ahmed Musa, Peter Odemwingie, Victor Moses; Emmanuel Emenike. Iran (4-2-3-1): Daniel Davari; Steven Beitashour, Khaled Hosseini, Amir Hossein Sadeghi, Mehrdad Pooladi; Javad Nekounam, Andranik Teymourian; Ghasem Haddadifa, Masoud Shojaei, Ashkan Dejagah; Reza Ghoochannejhad. Referee: Carlos Vera (Ecuador). Arinze’s prediction: Nigeria 2 Iran 1. What’s your prediction for the game?  

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This article was first published on 16th June 2014


Arinze Ude is a PhD Student at the University of the West of England Bristol, UK, where he's exploring on the mechanisms of donor cell leukaemia. He shares his deep thoughts on his blog and the Naked Convos. He is keen to promote personal development of the Nigerian youth via thought-provoking articles.

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