Iran 0 Nigeria 0 match report: Unlucky 13 for World Cup as Carlos Queiroz masterminds first stalemate of tournament
Neither team able to break the deadlock in Group F encounter
Monday 16 June 2014
It had to happen eventually. Nigeria couldn’t break down a dogged Iran, as an exciting 2014 World Cup saw its first draw, and suffered its first 0-0. Both sides were booed from the pitch by the 39,000 crowd in Curitaba, even if that was a little unfair on a Nigerian team who at least tried to attack.
As such, this proved unlucky match No 13, even if Carlos Queiroz will not feel like that. He set his Iranian team up to defend, and they duly claimed the country’s first ever clean sheet at a World Cup.
Both sides are now without a victory in the competition since 1998, however, and the worry is that they only claimed a point in the most winnable fixtures. Argentina and Bosnia and Herzegovina will surely ask more questions of Nigeria, and stretch Iran’s defence more.
Here, the Asian side more than held steady. The most frustrating aspect for Nigeria was that they start the game superbly, and even had the ball in the net after seven minutes. Ecuadorean referee Carlos Vera harshly ruled the effort out for a push on goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi, however.
Ogenyi Onazi then drilled a shot wide two minutes later.
Iran came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute when goalkeeper captain Vincent Enyeama produced a fine save to beat out Reza Ghoochannejhad’s header from their first corner of the game.
Nigeria defender Godfrey Oboabona made an early exit, replaced by former captain Joseph Yobo on the half hour after earlier receiving treatment on the touchline following a heavy tackle.
Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi was brought on but he could not affect things. The shots continued to go high or wide, and Iran remained narrow and durable.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi warned on Sunday that the African sides were as good as any in Brazil and could win the tournament, but on this evidence they will not be celebrating in Lagos.
There was no scorer but at least one winner: Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will now look on this group much more optimistically after losing to Argentina on Sunday.
This was the first game that really saw an element of negativity as it petered out to a draw.
Demonstrators have burned a US flag near the stadium in northern Brazil where Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to attend the United States’ team’s opening World Cup match late last night.
The protesters in Natal also burned a flag of international soccer governing body Fifa and shouted against “imperialism.” The protest drew only a few dozen people and they posed no threat to security officers who stopped them at a barricade about 2 kilometres from the stadium. Anti-World Cup demonstrations also took place in the southern city of Curitiba before the Iran-Nigeria game.
Protests against the cost of the World Cup spread across Brazil last year but demonstrations have been more subdued since the tournament began.
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