Saturday, June 21, 2014 11:36 am
Super Eagles of Nigeria Saturday tonight, will take on Bosnia-Herzegovina in a second Group F match at the World Cup, needing a win to book qualification to the last 16.
With Argentina expected to defeat Iran; despite what has been a World Cup that has presented awful surprises, a win for Nigeria based on that assumption would basically see the Super Eagles through to the second round of the game for the first time, since the 1998 World Cup in France.
The Bosnian team will be out for an outright win, having lost their first ever World Cup match to Argentina, a match in which the Bosnian side exhibited good team spirit against the Argentines, who largely, had Lionel Messi to thank for the 2-1 win.
Debut baptism out of the way, Bosnia is now expected to be more settled in the match against Nigeria that posted a performance lacking coordination and, for much of the match, purpose against Iran.
Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi had stated after that match that his players “did not play to plan,” while midfielder John Mikel Obi attributed the disappointing draw to Iran’s defensive tactics.
The Bosnians on the contrary are expected to put in an attacking display against Nigeria, which leaves a bit more room for Nigeria’s front three to move and allows Mikel Obi to create chances from his deep-lying role in midfield.
Ogenyi Onazi also has crucial role to play alongside Mikel to stop Bosnia’s playmaker Miralem Pjanic from creating chances for the likes of Edin Dzeko, Vedad Ibisevic, Senad Lulic and Izet Hajrovic.
While the others do the business of the final ball for Bosnia, Pjanic is the nucleus that keeps the team going with his simple yet effective style of play. an attribute that becomes more profound when playing alongside Zvjezdan Misimovic.
For Nigeria, a better coordinated display especially among the front three (if Keshi sticks to the 4-3-3 formation) would give the Super Eagles a chance of getting the needed result.
Joseph Yobo looks set to earn his 99th cap for Nigeria tonight as Godfrey Oboabona remains a doubt following the foot injury picked up in the first half against Iran.
There will be keen interest to see who starts upfront, with Osaze Odemwingie the preferred choice of fans and pundits after his energetic display off the bench last time out. Whether it was enough to compel Keshi to start him tonight remains to be seen.
Keshi stated that Nigeria made a slow start to the 2013 Nations Cup before going on to win the title and believes the Super Eagles can still progress from the group.
The World Cup certainly a much bigger stage than the Nations Cup and as the painful exits of the big teams like Spain, England and Cameroun have shown, a slow start could prove costly.