The Super Eagles came in as favorites to win the game, but the Iranian Lions defense would not break and in result the World Cup got its first 0-0 draw.
Byline: Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
CURITIBA– A combined 19 shots were taken between Nigeria and Iran, however, only a combined five shots would be on target, making this a defensive struggle and endless midfield between the two nations on Monday morning.
Iran came into this game welcoming a draw against the West African Nation. Early in the match Nigeria came out running, they were searching for the early goal to make Iran fall apart.
At the eighth minute the Super Eagles were flying down the left hand side of the field, forward Emmanuel Emenike sent a dangerous low cross into the penalty of the box. One Nigerian player went running towards the ball and seemed destined to score, but an Iranian defender was there to stop the play with a slide tackle.
However, the play was not over as the ball was cleared poorly, and Nigerian midfielder Ogenyi Onazi was there to collect the ball at the top of the penalty box. He took a few steps with the ball towards the net, but immediately was shut down by the Iranian defense, he still managed to get a shot off, but the ball harmlessly rolled out for a goal kick.
For the entire match Iran would have a 11 players behind the ball, all they did was defend and frustrate the Nigerian attack. The counters that the Iranian Lions launched were never really on target, only one of their shots would get on target. The reason because more the energy of Iran was spent on defense.
“We wanted to score in the first 20 minutes, but they defended in numbers and we couldn’t get through,” Nigerian Coach Stephen Keshi told FIFA.com. “When you get that type of situation, you can get wound up because you just want to score, and to do that you need to stay calm. You have to give Iran their due. They decided to play that way and their game-plan worked for them.”
When the referee blew the final whistle of the match, the Iranians were happy but very exhausted, since they spent the entire of match defending and chasing after the ball. Even their Coach was tired when the game ended.
“I am very tired. I did a lot of running in the dugout today. It was a very difficult match for us but we showed our style and our team spirit, concentration and discipline. We managed to stop them from putting their moves together in the first half,” Iran’s Coach Carlos Queiroz told FIFA.com after the match. “Nigeria’s big names tried to make the difference after the break and to take control of the game. That’s when we stepped our game up a level by doubling up a lot on their players. The fans didn’t see any goals but sometimes intensity, togetherness, focus and team spirit can make for an interesting spectacle.”
Now both teams will need to get three points in the next match to keep their second round hopes alive. Nigeria will be facing Bosnia Herzegovina on Saturday, June 21 at the Arena Pantanal. As for Iran they will be facing Argentina on Saturday as well, but they will be playing at the Estádio Mineirão.
highlights to this march can be seen on this link http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1886825, video provided by ESPN FC.