In a shockingly drab affair during a World Cup that has showcased wonderful football, Nigeria failed to break the deadlock against Iran, with the match ending in a 0-0 draw. Failing to secure a victory against arguably the weakest team in the tournament, and certainly the weakest in Group F, seriously damages the Super Eagles’ chances of advancing into the second round.
Despite having 70% of the possession, Stephen Keshi’s side rarely troubled the Iranian defense, mustering only 4 shots on goal. Neither side ever looked likely to score, and Nigeria has only themselves to blame. Armed with superior talent, there was a complete lack of urgency going forward. They were deservedly booed off the pitch after an appalling performance.
Vincent Enyeama – 7
Star goalkeeper and captain until Yobo came on, Enyeama had very little to do throughout the match, but did everything well. He saved the best chance of the match, parrying a header from Reza off of a corner kick in the 34th minute. Commanding in his box and handling high balls well, Nigeria’s number one didn’t put a foot wrong.
Efy Ambrose – 6
Deployed at right back, the Celtic man had the highest passing percentage of any player, with a 96% accuracy. He linked up well at times with Musa ahead of him, but failed to contribute to any clear-cut chances.
Kenneth Omeruo – 6
The 20-year-old made a mature World Cup debut, winning 75% of his aerial duels. He did not make any mistakes and did well to halt Iran’s attacks, which to be fair, were few and far between.
Godfrey Oboabona – 5
Oboabona came off injured in the 21st minute before being replaced by Joseph Yobo. During his time on the pitch though, he had very little to deal with.
Juwon Oshaniwa – 6
Stepping in for the injured Elderson, the replacement left-back looked assured in defense. Going forward, Oshaniwa provided a good cross for Ameobi in the second half, before poorly controlling a simple pass from Ozani in the 81st minute. In the 90th minute, he made a crucial tackle, denying Iran a last-minute opportunity.
Ogenyi Onazi – 7
Nigeria’s most involved player, Onazi had 116 touches on the ball – more than anyone else on the pitch. A defensive midfielder, he also broke up play while Iran had possession, in addition to having 3 shots. The fact that he had the most shots, however, says more about the rest of the team rather than Onazi himself.
John Obi Mikel – 5
Another disappointing performance for the Chelsea man, who endured a difficult season in London. Usually played as a holding midfielder, Mikel is afforded more attacking license with Nigeria. However, he did not take advantage of this freedom, choosing to play most of his passes sideways to Onazi or backwards to the defenders. Given their need for a goal, Mikel needed to contribute more going forward for Nigeria to have a chance to win.
Ramon Azeez – 4
Making only his third appearance for the Super Eagles, Azeez was poor in the attacking midfield role. Going forward, he failed to create anything with Emenike ahead of him, and was subsequently taken off in the 69th minute for Odemwingie.
Ahmed Musa – 5
Failed to make an impact on the right after taking the first shot on goal of the match in the 3rd minute. After a clever linkup with Ambrose in the second half, he took a heavy touch and played a poor ball to his right back in a rare attacking position.
Victor Moses – 4
Nigeria’s most disappointing player, Moses completed only six passes before being taken off in the 51st minute for Ameobi. His involvement will be in question for their next match against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Emmanuel Emenike – 5
The striker was tasked with leading Nigeria’s front line but lacked any real service from his midfield. He did create a chance in the 8th minute, where he delivered a low cross into the box that Musa failed to reach, but then drifted in and out of the match. When Ameobi came on, Emenike was allowed to drift further back to receive the ball, but still failed to create chances.
Joseph Yobo – 6
Coming on for the injured Oboabona, Yobo immediately received the captain’s armband and slotted into central defense. He looked assured, but his lack of pace was not exploited by Iran who created few chances of their own.
Shola Ameobi – 6
Brought on for Moses early in the second half, the Newcastle man had a pair of headers that seemed to signal Nigeria’s attacking intentions. His introduction improved Nigeria’s attack, but unfortunately for them, the goal never came.
Peter Odemwingie – 6
Odemwingie should have started the match given the energy he was able to provide. He was incorrectly judged to have handled the ball in a frantic move in the 83rd minute that resulted in an ferocious – albeit off-target – shot. He looked the most likely to score, but like the rest of his team, never came close.
Highlights: You can view the highlights on the official FIFA website here.