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World Cup

  • June 21, 2014
  • • 6:00 PM
  • • Arena Pantanal, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso
  • Referee: P. O'Leary
  • • Attendance: 40499
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World Cup Preview: Nigeria - Bosnia-Herzegovina

Safet Susic's men acquitted themselves well in their World Cup debut against Argentina but know it will count for nothing if they fail to beat the Super Eagles

The nature of Nigeria's drab 0-0 draw with Iran left Super Eagles fans dejected, as their best chance of three points disappeared without a trace. The reality of the matter, however, is that they are now more or less involved in a straight shootout with Bosnia-Herzegovina for a place in the second round. Simply put, if they beat Bosnia in Cuiaba on Saturday, they will eliminate their opponents from the running.

That task is easier said than done, given the disparity between the opening-day performances of both sides in Group F. Nigeria, aside from one spell in the first 15 minutes, was unable to create substantial openings in what turned out to be one of the worst games of the tournament so far against Iran.

Stars of the Africa Cup of Nations triumph like John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses failed to adequately instigate attacks and the tactical preparation of the Big Boss, Stephen Keshi, has also been called into question.

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Balls were punted towards Emmanuel Emenike without any degree of certainty and the decision to field Ramon Azeez as the advanced midfielder also backfired. Peter Odemwingie could be preferred at the weekend.

Keshi has plenty of tactical conundrums in front of him ahead of Saturday's clash, not least with the injury sustained by first-choice center back Godfrey Oboabona.

The World Cup could not have started any worse for Bosnia, which was undone by an own goal in the early moments of its debut game against Argentina at the Maracana. It settled well thereafter, however, and will be given plenty of encouragement by the manner in which it dictated the game to its more illustrious opponent for long spells.

That the Bosnians were defeated by a moment of Lionel Messi brilliance is no great shame, although moral victories count for nothing at World Cups.

Bosnia has plenty of attacking threats to disrupt Nigeria, with Edin Dzeko now due a good performance following a game of relative anonymity against the Argentines. Zvjezdan Misimovic, another Bosnia mainstay, will have to step up his intensity and move the ball quicker through midfield if Dzeko is to profit. Miralem Pjanic and Muhamed Besic, in particular, were impressive and may find their efforts will be less fruitless against the west Africans.

One false move, however, and Bosnia is out. There is significant pressure to cope with as Nigeria is within 90 minutes of eliminating Safet Susic's enterprising outfit at the very first juncture.

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