A PREVIEW OF NIGERIA’S OPPONENTS FOR 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP IN BRAZIL: How Can Super Eagles Qualify from the Group?

 It is different opinions really, while over 160 million Nigerians believe their national team will go all the way through the group stage, right to the semi finals and the finals of 2014 FIFA World cup in Brazil, many football analysts predicts that the team may struggle badly and may likely to be ouster in the group stage.

“Well, here in Nigeria, we strongly believe in miracle, and we’ve actually seen our national teams perform wonders in the past, but football analysts base their opinions on facts.”  Michael Asomugha explained.

Nigeria is currently placed 47th in the World FIFA rankings, lower than all its opponents in group F – Argentina is ranked 3rd in the World; Bosnia 21 and Iran 42.

Moreover, Super Eagles key players like Liverpool’s Victor Moses; Emmanuel Emernike; Sunday Mba; Kenneth Omeruo… may have lost form since the team’s AFCON victory in 2013. The African Champions without Moses and Emernike, looked so ordinary at the last Confederations cup in Brazil. Perhaps, Nigeria needs ‘Another Moses’ to save them from the coming onslaught of their World cup opponents. But can Moses divide the ‘red sea’ again?

Let me preview Nigeria’s opponents, so that Super Eagles may begin to envisage the best way to handle each match effectively. Nigeria will be playing Iran first, then Bosnia and then Argentina as the last group match.  (See fixtures below)



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Iranian National Team
Iran may not necessarily be called Asian power on the level of Japan, South Korea or Australia, but certainly Coach Carlos Queiroz has greatly transformed the team to booking a world cup place ahead of South Korea. Though, Iran had been in the world cup 4 times.

The former Real Madrid coach, Queiroz, took over Iranian team after he led Portugal in the 2012 World cup in South Africa.  He has since revitalized ‘Team Meli’ by calling up some players with dual citizenship such as the Iranian-Dutch striker, Reza Ghoochannejhad of Standard Liege; former German Youth International, Ashkan Deljagah… since then the Persian stars has started to fire with all cylinders.

Coach Carlos Queiroz

Key Strength of the Team: The tactical prowess of coach Queiroz may be the major strength of the team, but team Meli is well organized in the defense anchored by Jalal Hosseini, D.Perscopolis veteran center back since 2007.

The defense had only allowed 7 goals in 16 qualifying games. The team is very physical playing a blend of European-Asian style. The team had only lost 4 games in 32 matches.

Captain Jared Nekounam

Star Players: Captain Jared Nekounam of M. Gsteghlalal FC, a former player of La liga side Osasuna, only came up short in his chase for the AFC Player of the year Award in 2013. Then Reza Ghoochannejhad of Standard Liege and Jalal Hosseini are the real stars of the Iranian team.

Coach Queiroz Comments about Nigeria:  “Nigeria appears to be the weak link in the group and we must ensure to take the first game in our stride to put our world cup campaign on the right footing.”

My Verdict: Many Nigerian fans I spoke with also think that Iran is the real chance Super Eagles has in group F. A defeat of the Persian stars may give the Nigerian side the necessary motivation and confidence to battle Bosnia and Argentina. But anything short of winning may put Nigeria’s World cup Campaign in Jeopardy. Let me have your own opinion too. Post a comment below.

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