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17 June 2014
• Estádio Joaquim Américo Guimarães, Curitiba, Paraná
• Attendance: 39081
Full time in Brazil. Nigeria and Iran do their best to ruin all the fun of the opening games of the World Cup as they play out a truly woeful 0-0 draw in Group F. Nigeria had the majority of the possession but desperately lacked quality in the final third, while Iran showed little to no desire to push ahead and attack, despite their defensive solidity. Let's everyone get our mortgages on Bosnia and Herzegovina to go through in this Group, folks! You wont see a worse match at World Cup 2014. I'm Martin Macdonald, thanks for joining us, see you next time!
Two minutes of added time coming up. Is there someone, anyone, who wants to win this?
Great defending by Pooladi! Oshaniwa gets to the byline and whips a cross to the back post for Ameobi, who looks poised to head into the empty net, but the Iran left-back stretches up to glance behind!
We still have time for someone to prove themselves a hero, but the way the game is going Iran are not going to be breached, especially with the lack of pace and tempo in the match.
It is quite difficult to assess the performance of Iran. They have clearly set out to play defensively and claim the draw or perhaps a narrow 1-0 win, but should this be the tactic against the only side in the group you have a realistic chance of defeating? Defensively sound, but no desire to attack.
If both sides play like this for the remainder of their time in the tournament then we could probably just write-off Group F already and award Argentina and Bosnia and Herzegovina a path through to the knockout stages. A desperate lack of quality on show in the final third.
Odemwingie darts inside from the right wing and takes an assured touch on his chest before rasping a volley wide of the post. It was a cracking attempt, but the ref had already blew the whistle for a harsh handball on the Stoke man.
We really are running out of negative adjectives to describe just how poor Nigeria have been in the final third. Every two minutes there appears to be an opening, but any potential attack is ruined by a misjudged cross or pass.
Carlos Queiroz makes his first change of the match as it sees Dejagah replaced by Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
Iran nearly snatch a goal against the run of play! Dejagah breaks away to the back post and looks to have all the time in the world to pick a header at goal, but instead looks to head back inside, allowing Nigeria to clear! A potential wake up call for the Super Eagles!
Yellow Card Andranik
Onazi initially does well to feign to shoot and sweep the ball past Nekounam, who dived in far too easily, but then the subsequent shot on goal in incredibly tame and trickles into the arms of the grateful Haghighi.
A draw here does not really suite either side. You would expect Argentina to go ahead and top the group and Bosnia and Herzegovina put in a very strong performance against Lionel Messi and and his team-mates, so every point for these two nations is sure to be crucial to their cause.
AMEOBI!! JUST WIDE!! The referee had actually already blew the whistle but the substitute just got beyond the Iran defence to glance a header a whisker wide! Just a small warning to the Asian nation there!
Keshi makes his third and final change here and it is another positive one as Azeez comes off to be replaced by Stoke striker, Peter Odemwingie. Three forward on for the Super Eagles now; they realise this is probably a must win game!
Like the small period in the first half, Iran are just enjoying a small period of dominance here as they look to pose a threat in the final third. They do have some quality up top but Ghoochannejhad has been pretty isolated. Let's see how positive they will be in the remaining minutes.
Mikel collects the ball in the middle of the park once again and instead of picking out a signature sideways pass he opts to have a crack at goal from 30 yards, but Nekounam and Andranik close down well to block the route to the net.
The Nigerian fans are just starting to air their frustrations now as the boo they lumbering and lackadaisical passing of their side in the middle of the park. They want to be entertained, and it's just not happening.
An hour gone in the Arena da Baixada as Nigeria and Iran both look to open up their goalscoring accounts at the World Cup. There is definite quality among the ranks of both sides but none being shown so far. Still plenty of time for someone to claim the win though!
That's just woeful from Emenike. The Fenerbahce forward gets a rare sight of goal in the inside right channel but terribly slices his strike a few yards wide of the right-hand post. Just about sums about the performance of the African side so far!
Heydari gets down the right-hand side on the overlap and sends a high cross into the box. Ghoochannejhad looks poised to head at goal but he is foiled by Enyeama, who comes off his line to make a commanding catch.
Unfortunately it doesn't appear as if any side has received a new lease of life after their half time break. Keshi has been positive with his second change though so we'll see if Ameobi can make an impact. Could potentially signal a more direct approach going forward though.
Stephen Keshi makes his second change of the match as the disappointing Victor Moses is replaced by Shola Ameobi, whose contract with Newcastle United expires this summer. He'll provide some more physical presence in the box for Nigeria.
Dejagah receives the ball to feet and turns sharply past Yobo but the former Everton defender rather cynically hauls him to the ground. The Iranian dusts himself off to take the set-piece just inside the centre circle.
Victor Moses looks to stretch his legs down the right wing and looks to exchange a one-two with Azeez, but the return pass is extremely poor and the ball goes out of play for an Iran throw in.
Really good defending from Pooladi. Emenike collects the ball in midfield and opens up his powerful stride to take the ball past a few challenges, but is eventually stopped in his tracks by the Iran left-back, who ushers him out of the way to win possession.
We are back under way in Brazil!
Half time in Curitiba. No side at the World Cup has failed to score so far but the way this game is going we may buck this encouraging trend here as the match between Nigeria and Iran. The Asian side had the best chance to open the scoring through a chance for Ghoochannejhad, but his header was well-saved by Enyeama. Nigeria have been dominant in possession, but very little penetration from either side. Here's hoping both sides buck up their ideas in the next 45 minutes of play!
Two minutes of added time has been signalled by the fourth official. Can either side make their manager's team talk much easier at half time by opening the scoring here?!
Musa pops up on the right wing this time but still doesn't seem to get any joy hitting the byline even though he is now on the opposite flank. He does manage to squeeze a cross into the box, but it is flat and easily cleared.
Iran fail to capitalise on a period of dominance in the final third and Nigeria counterattack at pace down the right-hand side through Onazi and Ambrose, but as the Lazio man receives the ball back he puts a speculative cross into the box, which is easily cleared.
Emenike initially does well to shake off the attentions of Montazeri to collect to feet and sharply cut inside, but he ends up snatching a strike wide of the post from 25 yards. Both sides a little guilty of trying to force the issue.
Much like the opening few minutes, things are just a little too scrappy in the middle of the park now. Neither Iran or Nigeria are managing to string more than four passes together; instead opting to the ball over the top of the defence. Tactic not coming off as of yet.
As I mentioned earlier, Nigeria are far from comfortable at defending set-pieces, and were nearly undone from a corner kick! Bailed out by a great save from their highly capable goalkeeper, Enyeama.
SAAAAAAVE FROM ENYEAMA!! The corner kick is floated into the middle and Ghoochannejhad bullets a header towards goal, but the Nigerian keeper reacts brilliantly to beat the attempt away! Biggest chance of the match so far!
We've finally seen a foray into the final third from Iran as Mikel is dispossessed near the corner flag and Dejagah earns their first corner kick of the match out of Yobo. The Asian side just on the ascendancy here!
That's nearly terrific from Musa!!! The CSKA Moscow star looks as if he is going to float a free kick into the box from the left-hand side, but instead goes for goal with an audacious attempt towards the bottom corner. Haghighi actually does really well to get across goal to palm behind for the corner!
It seems your gracious writer spoke too soon. Oboabona wont be able to continue after picking up that ankle injury, and will be replaced in the heart of the Nigerian defence by Joseph Yobo.
Well there's no doubting the Iran tactics here. Omeruo had the ball at the back for a good 15 seconds before releasing and wasn't put under any pressure whatsoever from an opposition player. With the exception of Ghoochannejhad, every Iranian is camped in their own half.
Oshaniwa stretches his legs down the left wing and looks to exchange a one-two with Musa. The latter, instead of returning the pass, cuts back inside and looks to whip a cross to the back post, but he put far too much on it, and the Iran get the goal kick.
After some attention from the physios it looks like Oboabona has shook off that injury and is able to continue. That'll be a boost for Nigeria as the young defender certainly impressed in qualifying, so will be looking to star on the big stage for his country.
A speculative ball is played down the left-hand side and Emenike looks to bully Hosseini, but the Iranian flexes his muscles himself and holds off the challenge of the Nigerian. Really good defending, and Iran now look to move the play up the park.
Some worrying scenes for Nigeria at the moment as Oboabona is currently down injured after going down terribly awkwardly on his ankle. He's been taken off on a stretcher but no sign of a replacement yet as Keshi and his staff assess the damage.
Mikel takes a heavy touch in the middle of the park and is very nearly dispossessed by Ghoochannejhad. The Chelsea man comes out of the initial challenge unscathed but is then taken out in the middle of the park by Nekounam, and Nigeria get the foul.
Ambrose collects the ball on the right-hand side and easily skips past Dejagah before standing a teasing cross to the back post, but Haghighi is more commanding in his goalkeeping this time and comes off his line to pull the ball out of the air.
After a brief period of excitement from Iran, we have reverted back to Nigerian dominance as the African side boss the midfield and surrounding areas. Only the one real chance to speak of so far though, which was missed by Onazi.
Iran get their first opportunity to capitalise on their set-piece prowess as Hajsafi whips a free kick in from the right-hand side. Ghoochannejhad gets on the end of it but can't direct his header at goal to trouble Enyeama.
As perhaps expected, it is all Nigeria at the moment as Keshi's men look to establish their dominance early on. The Iranian's are getting plenty of men behind the ball, but it is gifting Mikel and Onazi all the time in the world to operate in central midfield.
Onazi was down for a minute or so after missing that chance after a collision with Sadeghi, but the Lazio man is now pack on the field after receiving treatment and looks to have shook off any potential injury.
The African side are having plenty of joy down this left-hand side here! The Iran right-back, Montazeri, is being given a torrid time by Moses and the drifting runs of Emenike! The latter manages to pass inside for Onazi, who gets into the danger area but fails to get enough purchase on his poked strike wide of the post!
Well Nigeria manage to get the ball into the back of the Iranian net as Musa latches on to a corner at the back post to stick home, but the whistle had already gone for a foul on Haghighi. That wasn't the most convincing goalkeeping there, and he was lucky to get away with winning the foul!
Mikel goes long with a searching pass for Emenike, but the Fenerbahce striker fails to shake off the attentions of the central defenders, which allows the keeper to come off the line to claim. A lot of long balls being played in the early stages as Nigeria look to heap on the pressure in the opening minutes.
Moses drives down the left-hand side and typically cuts in on his favoured right foot before testing the gloves of Haghighi with a speculative strike from the edge of the box. The Iranian collects comfortably.
It's been a scrappy opening here. We are not even two minutes in and we've twice already seen a ball humped 30 feet in the air with a panicked clearance from Iran. Both teams still to find their feet. Just need to shake off the pre-match nerves!
We are under way in Curitiba!
The National Anthems sound out through the stadium!
Nigeria subs: Yobo, Uzoenyi, Gabriel, Egwuekwe, Odemwingie, Odunlami, Ejide, Babatunde, Nwofor, Uchebo, Agbim, Ameobi
Iran subs: Ahmadi, Shojaei, Haghighi, Reza Jahanbakhsh, Ansarifard, Haddadifa, Mahini, Alenemeh, Rahmani, Beikzadeh, Beitashour, Davari.
Both sides look to have set-up with strong central midfields, so it may be a question of who effects the match out of Nigeria's John Obi Mikel or Iran's Javad Nekounam. Both integral creative influences in their respective sides!
Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Enyeama; Ambrose, Omeruo, Oboabona, Oshaniwa; Onazi, Mikel; Musa, Azeez, Moses; Emenike
Iran (4-4-1-1): Haghighi; Montazeri, Hosseini, Sadeghi, Pouladi; Heydari, Nekounam, Teymourian, Hajsafi; Dejagah; Ghoochannejhad
The opening Group F match took place last night and features Argentina facing off against World Cup debutants, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The South American side were slighty out-of-sorts in the first period, but a Lionel Messi cracker saw them run out narrow 2-1 winners.
Iran scored a decent chunk of their qualifying goals from set-pieces, so it will not be encouraging for Keshi knowing that 11 out of the 21 goals conceded by Nigeria in World Cup Finals have came from set-piece situations.
The one previous meeting between Iran and Nigeria came in a friendly in 1998, with the Super Eagles landing the 1-0 victory.
Iran go into this group as massive underdogs as they come up against sides with dangerous attacking players, with Nigeria boasting such stars as Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike . Their defensive stats in qualifying are impressive, but the Finals are a whole different ball game. However, they can take some confidence from the fact that the African side are winless in their last eight World Cup games.
The Super Eagles, on the other hand, are the current African Cup of Nations champions, and have experience of some adequate success at World Cup finals; reaching the second round in 1994 and 1998. Stephen Keshi's men will have to be at their best though if they are do come out of a group which also features Bosnia and Herzegovina and Argentina.
Iran, managed by former Real Madrid and Portugal boss, Carlos Queiroz, come into the World Cup with their defensive prowess being touted as their biggest asset. The Portuguese's outfit were the top goalscorers in Asian qualifying, but their defensive quality was even more impressive as they conceded just five goals in 10 games.
I'm Martin Macdonald, and it is my pleasure to take you through the action!
There's some history to be made tonight as Iran and Nigeria face each other for the very first time in the World Cup finals!
Good evening football fans, and welcome to LIVE coverage of the World Cup Group G clash between Iran and Nigeria from Arena da Baixada in Curitiba!
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