World Cup: Nigeria Begins Quest For Glory Tonight
Nigeria’s Super Eagles will begin their quest for FIFA World Cup glory tonight when they confront Iran in Group F in Curitiba.
The two nations meet for the very first time in their opening game of the tournament hoping to give themselves a strong start in the expected battle for second place behind Argentina.
Nigeria have failed to gather any momentum ahead of the tournament with few friendlies, including a 2-1 defeat to the United States two weeks ago in Florida.
The African nation have a better record in the World Cup than their opponents, having reached the knockout stages on two occasions. However, Iran forward Ashkan Dejagah is confident they can grab a result tonight.
“We’re not going there expecting to win the tournament but we think we can cause a few surprises,” he told Fulham’s official website.
“It’s the fourth time the country has reached the World Cup but they’ve only ever won one game and have never got out of the group stages, so it would be great if we could get into the knockout rounds. I think we have a chance,” he said.
Under Carlos Queiroz, Iran were the third team to qualify for Brazil 2014 after winning AFC qualifying Group A ahead of South Korea and Uzbekistan, but now the focus is on winning a finals match for only the second time.
Having topped their groups at the 1994 and 1998 Asian qualifying editions, Iran’s most recent efforts in the world stage have been poor.
In the case of Nigeria, the 2002 and 2010 tournaments saw the Super Eagles languishing at the bottom of their group without registering a single victory.
However, former midfielder Emmanuel Amuneke, a member of the 1994 squad has called on the current squad to unite and ensure a good start while not underestimating their first opponents.
“The World Cup is different ball game. I have been there and I know what I’m talking about. You can’t build your team around two players. There’s danger in it.
“The concept and objectives of the team must go collectively. Individually and collectively everybody knows their functions in the team.
“Even those on the bench should be part of the collective effort because they may be called from the bench to play at any time. We must be realistic about our chances. We must not underrate Iran.”
Iran finished top of their group in the Asian qualifiers, defeating South Korea in the process, and will hope this will stand them in good stead for the World Cup.
Nigeria come into the competition as the current African Cup of Nations champions and will certainly be no easy picking for any team they face.