2014 World Cup: Iran vs Nigeria preview

June 15, 2014
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Iran vs NigeriaThree-time Asian Cup champions Iran will be aiming for a winning start to their fourth World Cup, but they clearly face an uphill task in their opening fixture against Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Super Eagles are aware they need to win this match if they are to remain in contention for a place in the knockout stages.

Iran are making their fourth appearance at the World Cup finals, and having failed to get past the group stage on previous three occasions, they will attempt to go one step further this time out.

Even if they are considered underdogs in Group F, Team Melli do seem to have a realistic chance of winning the second place in the group given that Bosnia and Nigeria are not exactly world beaters.

Iran largely impressed in the World Cup qualifiers, winning the first place in their group ahead of Korea Republic, which is enough to suggest they deserve to play at this level.

Carlos Queiros’ side were not too convincing in recent international friendlies, as they shared spoils with Belarus, Montenegro and Angola before defeating Trinidad & Tobago, but they are 3.80 (14/5) with BetVictor to defeat Nigeria in their opening fixture.

Iran will be heavily relying on star trio Javad Nekounam, Ashkan Dejagah and Reza ‘Gucci’ Ghoochannejhad, who appear to be in excellent form at the moment.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-2-1): Haghigi – Heydari, Hosseini, Montazeri, Pooladi – Nekounam, Sadeghi, Teymourian – Dejagah, Hajsafi – Ghoochannejhad.

Since qualifying for their first World Cup finals in 1994, Nigeria have only missed out on the 2006 tournament, and they have so far twice reached the knockout stages by topping their group.

Another such feat might prove very difficult this time out with Argentina the hot favourites, but the Super Eagles will be vying Bosnia and Iran for the second qualifying berth.

Nigeria arrive in Brazil buoyed by the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations title, but their performances in warm-up games have left a lot to be desired.

The Super Eagles shared spoils with Mexico, Scotland and Greece before losing to the United States, but they, nonetheless, remain 2.25 (5/4) favourites to see off Iran.

With Ahmed Musa and Gabriel Reuben recovering from injury, Stephen Keshi will have fully fit squad to choose from.

Full-back Uwa Echiejile had earlier withdrawn due to injury, with youngster Juwon Oshaniwa deputizing at left-back.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Enyeama – Ambrose, Oboabona, Yobo, Oshaniwa – Mikel, Onazi – Musa, Moses, Odemwingie – Emmenike.

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