16 June 2014

Nigeria: Disappointing Nigeria Held By Iran

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Nigeria's Ahmed Musa provided striker Emmanuel Emenike with a low ball to score, but the goal was disallowed after an offside call which gave the Super Eagles cause to feel aggrieved.

Nigeria's World Cup campaign got off to a timid start after they were held to a goalless draw by Group F minnows Iran at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba on Monday.

It was a game of few chances and little quality with Super Eagles fans showing their displeasure in the dying minutes   by jeering their own players from the stands.

It is not only that the two sides were wasteful in front of goal but they simply created few chances and manufactured the World Cup's first drawn match in the, now as we know, unlucky 13th game.

Iran played as many expected them to, very organised and tactically disciplined, putting 11 men behind the ball, but without the pace and skill to hurt Nigeria on the break.

The African side will have taken this as a must-win match, with much tougher assignments coming against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina. The Super Eagles will likely require at least one win if they are to make the second round.

But they will have to play a whole lot better than this.

Nigeria made the brighter opening; after Victor Moses had an early effort, Ogenyi Onazi fired narrowly wide.

The Super Eagles lost defender Godfrey Oboabona just before the half-hour mark to what looked a serious injury, but his replacement was the vastly experienced Joseph Yobo.

There was a scare at the Nigerian end as Vincent Enyeama was forced into an excellent save to deny Reza Ghoochannejhad from Ashkan Dejagah's corner. It was the best chance of a first half in which there was little goal-mouth action.

Emmanuel Emenike had a final chance in the half for the African side, but blasted wide of goal with a rushed shot.

It took almost 25 minutes in the second half for a decent chance to be created as Nigerian substitute Shola Ameobi headed wide.

Even then the goal would not have stood after the giant forward was adjudged to have fouled the defender.

Another substitute, Peter Odemwingie, controlled the ball on the edge of the area and volleyed wide late on, but once again the referee had blown for a handball. However, replays showed he controlled it with his chest.

The game rather petered out in the end, with Nigeria by far the more disappointed.

They must now pick themselves up for the meeting with Bosnia-Herzegovina in Cuiabá on Saturday.

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