The 2014 World Cup has been noted for its high-scoring and attacking football, but neither Nigeria nor Iran were able to get on the scoresheet in their clash at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba this morning.
Nigeria were heavily favored to start their 2014 World Cup campaign with a victory and give themselves an excellent opportunity to qualify for the second back of the tournament, but were unable to breakdown the well-drilled Iran defense.
The Super Eagles started the game well and created quite a few chances in the first 20 minutes, but were unable to capitalize and Iran were arguably the better side in the last 15 minutes of the first half.
Nigeria failed to take the attack to Iran in the second half and were unable to create any real chances; with the side failing to take advantage of the opportunity to record their first World Cup victory since 1998.
Midfield John Obi Mikel, who failed to impress, admitted that the side had wasted the chance to get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start, but remains confident that his side can qualify for the second round with a win over Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 21.
“I think we are all disappointed,” Mikel said.
The first game of every tournament it is very important to win and we came out to win, but the Iranian team had a good idea of what they wanted to do to stop us playing and stop us creating chances.
“We are still here, a draw is not a bad result.
We still have two games to play, the next game will be important for us and Bosnia.
“We have to go back to training, improve the things we did wrong and get those right.”
Iran were happy to sit back and hit the Nigeria on the counter attack and the well-drilled side looked the most likely to break the deadlock in the second half of the game.
Iran Manager Carlos Queiroz said that he was happy with the result, in what was just the third time that Iran had received a point at a World Cup, and is looking forward to his sides clashes with Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“I must praise my players, they more than deserved this draw,” Queiroz said.
“The most important thing is that everything is now open to us.”
Iran remain clear underdogs in their remaining 2014 World Cup games and are available at odds of $19 with Ladbrokes.com.au to knock off Argentina in their clash this Saturday.