The second group F game of the World Cup sees Iran vs Nigeria take place at Arena da Baixada, Curitiba on Monday (12:00 PM PST) and victory for either side on the day could see them take a huge leap towards their hopes of qualifying to the knock out phases of the competition.
Placed in a group alongside Argentina and Bosnia & Herzegovina, not many believe that either Iran or Nigeria can make it past the group stages. As a result the two teams will want to prove their critics wrong and give themselves every chance of making into the knock out rounds with a win on Monday.
Iran are considered one of the powerhouses of Asian football but have not performed too well at the World Cup. Their last appearance in the world stage was back in Germany 2006 and were very disappointing on that occasion, while they have not managed to make it past the group stages in any of their 3 appearances.
However, under Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz, the level of optimism within the Iranian fans has risen considerably and they expect their team to do well in Brazil.
While it will certainly not be easy to make into the knockout rounds of the competition due to the fact that they have been placed in a tough looking group, Iran now seem to possess a good unit consisting of home based as well as foreign based talent and could well surprise quite a few people in Brazil.
After a couple of years of struggle Nigeria will be heading into the 2014 World Cup as African champions.
Under Stephen Keshi, the Super Eagles side have made a lot of improvement and their victory in the African Cup of Nations in 2013 – despite having very little expectation ahead of the tournament, was a testament to the positive effect the 52-year old has had on the squad.
The Super Eagles were solid in their qualifiers as well and although not favourites to make it out of their group, many feel it will be between Bosnia and Nigeria who will be fighting it out for second spot in Group F.
Daniel Davari looks the undisputed choice between the sticks for Iran, while the defence should consist of Khosro Heydari, Jalal Hosseini, Pejman Montazeri and Ehsan Hajsafi.
The midfield looks Iran’s biggest threat as in Javad Nekounam, Andranik Teymourian, Askhan Dejagah and Alireza Jahanbakhsh, manager Carlos Queiroz can put out a lineup at the middle of the park which is full of experience at the highest level in Europe.
The Iran strikeforce looks dangerous as well with Charlton Atheltic’s Reza Ghoochannejhad and Las Palmas’ Masoud Shojaei leading the line for the Asian giants.
Inspirational captain Vincent Enyeama will be starting in goal for Nigeria and he will most likely be shielded by a defence consisting of Elderson Echiejile, Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo and Efe Ambrose.
Nigeria possess a very solid midfield with John Mikel Obi and Ogenyi Onazi set to start in a holding role while Peter Odemwingie, Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses provide the creativity.
Fenerbhache’s Emmanuel Emenike looks the most likely candidate to lead the Nigerian attack and he will undoubtedly pose a great danger to the Iran defence.
Iran (Probable XI): Davari; Heydari, Hosseini, Montazeri, Hajsafi; Dejagah, Nekounam, Trymourian, Jahanbakhsh; Ghoochanneijhad, Shojaei
Nigeria (Probable XI): Enyeama; Elderson, Oboabona, Omeruo, Ambrose; Onazi, Mikel; Odemwingie, Musa, Moses; Emenike
Iran: D D D W
Nigeria: D W D D L
Iran vs Nigeria Prediction
Both teams have been placed as underdogs to make it out of their group but it is not to say that they do not stand a chance at all. More than the individuals, both Iran and Nigeria are a coherent team willing to fight for each other.
As for the game on Monday, Nigeria seem to have the edge in terms of quality over the Iranians. The Super Eagles possess a lineup consisting of players playing across Europe and certainly possess a dangerous squad.
That being said, Iran’s anonymity should not be seen as their weakness and as they have proven during their qualifiers, the Asian side are a team built on a principle of hard work capable of causing problems to any side.
Heading into the game Nigeria endured a difficult round of friendlies, losing out to United States while only mustering draws against Greece and Scotland. Iran, on the other hand, earned morale boosting results against the likes of Montenegro, Angola and Trinidad and Tobago.
The match will be a closely fought one but Nigeria seem to have the edge and should emerge victorious by the odd goal.
Iran 1 – 2 Nigeria
Iran vs Nigeria Television
The Iran vs Nigeria match will be televised in the USA on ESPN3 (stream) and Univision Deportes at 12:00 PM Pacific on Monday.