Super Eagles can fly high in Curitiba.
Things haven’t exactly gone smoothly for Iran since they qualified for the World Cup finals with a ground-breaking victory over South Korea.
Portuguese coach Carlos Querioz probably though he’d done and seen it all after two previous World Cups with South Africa and Portugal. He’s also managed Real Madrid and been Sir Alex Ferguson’s second in command at Manchester United.
But domestic issues have dogged his current squad over the last nine months and it’s been a hurry to complete preparations after training camps were cancelled and arguments blazed over payments.
Results and performances, naturally, have dipped and, though they did beat Trinidad and Tobago in their final warm-up, they’ve been held by the likes of Angola and Belarus lately and lost to Guinea.
Defending has been their strength but this is a huge step up on what the Iranians are comfortable with and anything achieved in Brazil will be a huge bonus.
Charlton’s Reza Ghoochannejhad is probably their best striker but whether he’ll get much chance to shine against Nigeria has to be doubtful as the Africa Cup Of Nations champions fancy their chances of making it through to the last 16 for only the third time.
Nigeria are regulars at World Cup finals having only missed out once in the last 20 years. Stephen Keshi’s squad is vastly experienced and many play in Europe’s top leagues.
Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses, Celtic’s Efe Ambrose and Stoke’s Peter Odemwingie should all start their opener but Newcastle Shola Ameobi may have to be content with a place on the bench.
Fenerbahce’s Emmanuel Emenike is one of their key men but his side will have to play to their best to reach the knockout stages, though should have few problems making a winning start and we might regret putting up the Super Eagles at 6/5. They are 29/10 to score two goals against Iran.
The match kicks off at 8pm UK time on Monday June 16th at the Arena da Baixada, Curitiba.