Iran and Nigeria will meet for the first time in their history at a World Cup match when the Arena da Baixada stadium opens its doors today, the day’s first match is guaranteed to be hot and humid with a chance of Amazon showers.
Both teams have one thing in common, they are winless in a World Cup since France 1998 and are looking to end their 16 year wait for a win.
Iran does not habitually create many chances for scoring but their strength lies in their fearless defense and tough style of play. Their offensive tactics of aerial offensive passing by many are considered out-dated and will make it very difficult to score against Nigeria.
Led by 33-year-old Javad Nekounam, the Iranian players revolve around his rhythm whose task is to break up opposing attacks and launch his team on the fast and furious counterattack.
On the other hand, Nigeria goes into Group F being considered the heavy underdogs, but if they are able to keep things tight at the back and get the ball into the penalty area from the flanks and apply pressure with enough quality shots one just might hit the back of the net.
The man that can do that is 29 years old striker, Emmanuel Emenike, he is one of Nigeria’s main scoring threats for this game and can give the Nigerians the knock-out goal victory.
Much will hinge on both teams form and fitness especially in the 80-90 minute of play as the hot, humid, rain soaked pitch will make older players legs feel like heavy logs.
I give the clear advantage to Nigeria based on their youth, fitness level and experience playing in similar climate conditions that will assure the much anticipated victory over Iran age, outdated tactics and inexperience playing in tropical climate conditions.