World Cup: A Look At Nigeria's Group F Opponents And Chances [Opinion] World Cup draw, Argentina, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina
After the FIFA World Cup draw last Friday there have been mixed reactions amongst football fans all over the World concerning their favorite National teams of going through to the knockout phase of the competition.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria are in Group F alongside Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran.
Nigerians are very optimistic about the chances of the Super Eagles in this group as we will play Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina before facing Argentina in the last group match.
Taking a look at the Super Eagles' Group F opponents:
IRAN are one of the consistent Asian sides, they are currently coached by Carlos Quieroz the former Portugal coach.
Their last participation saw them earning just a point as they picked up a 1-1 draw against debutants Angola in the last game of the group.
Iran was impressive during the Asian qualifiers rounding up qualification with a 1-0 away victory over Korea Republic.'
Players to watch: Reza Ghoochannejhad (Standard Liège), Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham), Javad Nekounam (Esteghlal F.C.), Karim Ansari (Tractor Sazi).
All things been equal Stephen Keshi’s men should look at getting a victory against Iran as they are the weakest side in the group.
3-points in the first game will boost the morale of the team and set up a great encounter against the European side Bosnia-Herzegovina in the second match.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA is playing at her first World Cup, the European side was fantastic during qualification winning eight of their ten matches, drawing and losing just one.
They scored 30 goals during their qualification campaign and conceding only 6 goals, the impressive goal difference gave them an edge over Greece to see them earn automatic qualification to the World Cup.
Players to watch: Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Vedad Ibisevic (Stuttgart), Miralem Pjanic (AS Roma), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhou Renhe).
This will be the most crucial and tricky tie for the Super Eagles.
Bosnia-Herzegovina has been consistent in the last few years and they have a very solid team, they almost qualified for the last World Cup but lost to Portugal in the play-offs.
With top players like Edin Dzeko of Manchester City who we all know to be a fantastic striker on his day and Miralem Pjanic, who is having a great season with Roma in the Italian Serie A.
Pjanic is rated as one of the best attacking midfielders with four assists and three goals to his name in the Serie A so far this season.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is a debutant at the World Cup and lack of experience in top rated competitions might count against them.
Nigeria should definitely go for a victory against the European side so as to assure qualification before the last group game against rival and Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
ARGENTINA, One of the top teams in football with great attacking players led by Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonazolo Higuain, Di Maria.
Argentina are one of the favourites to win the Brazil 2014 World Cup, they have the advantage of playing in familiar territory as the World Cup will be played in South America.
The current World best player and arguably one of the greatest players of all time, Lionel Messi has a point to prove as he has not won any silverware with the Senior National team.
Messi have won the U-21 World Cup, U-23 Olympic gold medal but he has not won any significant trophy with the Senior National team.
The Barcelona star has been struggling this season with a recurring injury which is a bad omen during a World Cup year but Coach Sabella can look to Manchester City’s striker Sergio Aguero to do the magic.
Aguero is currently having a great season in the English Premier League scoring 12 goals in the English Premier League and 6 goals in the UEFA Champions League so far this season, the former Atletico Madrid striker could be Argentina’s joker at the World Cup.
Though, Alejandro Sabella will be hopeful that his main man, Lionel Messi will be back in action soon and pick up form before the World Cup kicks off in June next year.
Players to watch: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli).
If we can get two wins in our first two games, we can settle for a draw against Argentina. We have played the Argentines three times in previous World Cup tournaments and we have lost all three games narrowly, 2-1 at USA ‘94, 1-0 at Japan/Korea 2002 and 1-0 at South Africa 2010 where Vincent Enyeama was in great form, stopping Lionel Messi from getting a goal.
Hopefully, Vincent Enyeama will continue is current form into next year and lead the Super Eagles to greatness.
The little man in me is telling me we will defeat Argentina against all odds :).
In Conclusion, I think Stephen Keshi is a lucky Coach.
In football, great teams, players and managers have this element of luck around them that makes things favour them and make them do things the right way with ease.
Since Keshi took over, Nigeria has been getting good draws and there is nothing as good as starting a tournament with the easy games while your team develops as the tournament goes on.
Also, the 2013 confederations Cup have helped our players familiarize with the conditions in Brazil.
The weather will favour Nigerians and African teams in general as Brazil’s weather is usually hot in June/July which is similar to the weather in Africa.
Players won’t play at their highest peak under hot conditions, games will be slower and fatigue will set in.
Though, FIFA have made plans to have a ‘Cooling Break’ for players during matches.
The referee, match delegate and independent doctor on site will all have the power to stop a match for a "cooling break." They will meet before the game, assess the condition and decide whether to have cooling breaks and, if so, how many to have. And if conditions degenerate during a game, they can decide to have more.
Football pundits and coaches around the world have also made suggestions on how to make it easier for players to cope with the heat.
Cesar Prandelli the Italian Coach is suggesting a 2-minutes break regardless of the weather, which I think makes sense rather than deliberating before each match or making decisions while the game is on.
Oh, and Nigeria have chosen Sao Paulo as their base but we will be playing our games at Curitiba (vs. Iran) – June 16, Cuiaba (vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina) – June 21, and Porto Alegre (vs. Argentina) – June 25.
Travel experts suggest that prices of flying between these Cities might be as high as $1000 during the tournament, so if you plan to be in Brazil it is advisable to book your flights now or have a tour bus in place if you are in groups to save cost.
Nigerians should be excited about the prospects of Nigeria going through to the knock-out phase of the World Cup in Brazil.
Article by: @SegunAke