Iran held Nigeria to a goalless stalemate in their group F opener match played at the Arena da Baixada, Curitiba. Nigeria, the African representatives, came into this game with after eight win-less world cup buildup games and seemed to carry on, failing to get any past Iran goal keeper Alireza Haghighi.
The Super Eagles came close in the first half, when Ogenyi Onazi fired a yard wide before Ahmed Musa’s 35 yard free kick, a near post effort that was pushed wide. Iran’s Reza Ghoochannejad forced a great save from Vincent Enyeama to keep the game goalless in the 33rd minute, Iran’s best chance.
Nigeria dominated possession, creating more chances thanks to Shola Ameobi’s arrival that gave a bit of spark to their play. Peter Odemwingie who replaced Azeez for Nigeria combined with Obi Mikel crashing a volley wide off the post, but the referee’s whistle went for handball, 8 minutes prior stoppage time.
Eventually the share of points left both teams second and third in group F following Argentina’s 2-1 victory against Bosnia on Monday.
Carlos Queiroz’s Iran will be inspired by this result ahead of Saturday’s showdown against Argentina. On the other hand, Nigeria have only themselves to blame for their unsuccessful attempt to destroy Iran evidenced by their negative tactics. The African champions who were fancied to go through with South American giants Argentina, now head for Bosnia.