Nigeria might be in a “must win” situation when they face heavy underdog Iran on Monday in Curitiba in Group F action.
The Super Eagles enter the match with a talented but thin roster. They also start the tournament with mixed results in recent weeks. Head coach Stephen Keshi’s squad fell to the U.S., 2-1, in Jacksonville, Florida, and finished with a scoreless result with Greece in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Nigeria will be without Elderson Echiejile. The Monaco defender suffered a muscle injury in the match against Greece. He will be replaced in the squad by Enugu Rangers winger Ejike Uzoenyi.
But Keshi will still have a pair of very talented attacking midfielders, both of whom play for Premier League titans Chelsea. Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel are expected to be major contributors for Nigeria against Iran.
Nigeria may not be able to afford a draw or loss against Iran. The Super Eagles are expected to be have a solid chance of advancing to the Round of 16, but face tough competition after Iran.
Though considered among the weakest teams in the tournament, Iran still has some quality players on their healthy roster. Reza Ghoochannejhad of Charlton Athletic and Fulham’s Ashkan Dejagah will be called upon to spark the attack. Former Osasuna midfielder and team captain Javad Nekounam is another player that is expected to play a key role in Iran’s hopes of advancing.
Perhaps the most noteworthy person for Iran is the squad’s manager. Carlos Queiroz has managed multiple countries, including Portugal. Considered one of the sharpest minds in world football, Iran might have the best possible manager under their circumstances.
Group F also includes Argentina and Bosnia-Hercegovina. The two nations met on Sunday, with Argentina earning three points in the victory.
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