Nigeria were considered the favourite to qualify for the knockout stages after Argentina in Group F but after their goalless draw with Iran, they are now left with a difficult task when they face Bosnia and Herzegovina in Cuiaba on Saturday night.
Nigeria are still looking to emulate their forebears of the 90s and progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup. However, after securing a solitary point against the Iranians, they now have to win their remaining games in Group F if this is to become a reality.
The Bosnians are playing in their first World Cup but gave a much better account of themselves against Argentina than this statistic would suggest. In my opinion, the debutants were the better side for much of the game against Argentina and it took the prowess of Lionel Messi to overcome them.
If they can repeat that performance against Nigeria, then it would be fair to consider them favourites for the three points.
Godfrey Oboabona is unavailable after picking up an injury in the game against Iran. Joseph Yobo will likely replace him in the first 11.
Sejad Salihovic is the only injury worry for Bosnia and Herzegovina after picking up an injury in training.
- This will be the first time Nigeria has ever played Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- There have only been three goalless draws at this World Cup so far. Nigeria played in one of them.
- Nigeria have failed to win any of their previous nine World Cup matches, a record stretching back to France 98.
- This will only be the second World Cup match Bosnia and Herzegovina have ever played in.
Nigeria – Emmanuel Emenike
Emenike did not have a great game against Iran, only managing two shots at goal that were both off target. According to Squawka.com he didn’t even manage to create any chances for his team mates during the match. He was only able to win 36% of his duels but did have one positive aspect of his performance; he finished the game with a 67% passing accuracy. His performance was made all the more disappointing considering he managed to score 15 goals in 32 appearances at club level this season. At the same time though, this still demonstrates the threat he presents up front and thus cannot be taken likely by the Bosnian defence.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Miralem Pjanic
Pjanic is one of the big players for Bosnia and Herzegovina and this showed in the game against Argentina. According to Squawka he finished the game with a 92% passing accuracy and created four chances for his team mates. He also managed to win 67% of his duels and was good at tracking back to help the defence when called upon. He was considered to be one of the best players in Serie A this season and he certainly vindicated that opinion in the game against Argentina. He will face easier opposition against Nigeria and could potentially have a bigger say on the outcome of the match.
I think Nigeria are up against it in this match. Bosnia and Herzegovina played really well against Argentina despite the loss and will be desperate to win a match in their first World Cup appearance. Pjanic should play well alongside Edin Dzeko up front and so I think the final score will result in a 2-1 win for Bosnia and Herzegovina.