Match Day 5: African Champions Take Centre Stage

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The Super Eagles will be out for redemption when they face Iran in the second match of Day 5 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Eagles have failed to go beyond the group stage in their last two World Cups; with the debacle of 2010 still in the memory of football-loving Nigerians. The Eagles’ last victory in the competition was a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria at France 1998.

With Argentina having defeated fellow group favourite Bosnia, the African champions know they can’t afford to slip against Iran if they are to stand any chance of qualifying from the Group.  The Super Eagles are the only African nation to qualify in undefeated fashion in the World Cup alongside Ivory Coast.

Iran have only won one in nine World Cup fixtures; 2-1 victory over USA at France 1998, and have never made it past the group stage. The Iranian Lions are undefeated in their last four friendlies as they have beaten Trinidad and Tobago and drew Angola, Montenegro and Belarus. The Super Eagles, on the other hand, failed to win any of their last four warm-up games as they lost to USA and drew Scotland and Greece.

In the only previous meeting between the two sides, Nigeria defeated Iran 1-0 in an International friendly, in January 1998.

While the Super Eagles will rely on quality players such as Mikel, Ozaze, Emenike and Moses, they would have to watch out for the Iranian talisman, Reza Ghoochannejhad, “Gucci,” who plays for Charlton Athletic. He scored nine goals in Iran’s 11 Asian Cup qualifiers to win the Golden Boot.

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