Another big weekend for African sides

2014-06-21 00:00

THE second weekend of Brazil 2014 is another big one for the African continent. There are six fixtures spread over today and tomorrow, and half of those include African sides all desperate for victories and a chance to get in the playoff mix as the group stages gear up for their final round of fixtures.

Today’s 6 pm kick-off sees title contenders Argentina up against an Iran side that was ecstatic with their opening 0-0 draw against Nigeria on Monday. The Argentines — with Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero spearheading their attack — will almost certainly possess too much firepower for Carlos Queiroz’s men. Iran will be sitting ducks for a barrage of attacks if they employ the same defensive mind-set that they did against the Nigerians.

In what has the potential to be a lively affair, Ghana must go for broke in their 9 pm against a German outfit that thrashed Portugal 4-0 in their opening fixture. Ghana were always going to battle in what is a tough group, but they got off to the worst possible start when they went down 2-1 to America in what had been identified as the match they simply had to win to stand any chance of progressing. Instead, they sit on 0 points with fixtures against Germany and Portugal left. The Black Stars have nothing to lose, and they will play with freedom and without fear tonight, which combined with the class of the Germans should provide the ingredients for an entertaining affair.

Nigeria disappointed against Iran after they had been identified as one of Africa’s realistic contenders at the tournament, but they have the chance to put things right when they take on Bosnia at midnight tonight. The race for second place behind Argentina in Group F is on, and whoever wins tonight’s match will be in pole position.

Belgium, after coming back from a goal down to beat Algeria on Tuesday, remain the frontrunners in Group H. They get the action started tomorrow when they take on a Russian side that drew 1-1 with Korea after their goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev committed one of the blunders of the tournament to concede. Belgium are still considered dark horses to win the tournament.

The focus is back on Africa tomorrow at 9 pm when Algeria and Korea clash in what is one of the more low-key matches of the weekend. There may not be any superstars, but both sides will be going all out for three points.

Possibly the tastiest fixture of the weekend is tomorrow’s midnight kick-off. Portugal, on the ropes after their German nightmare, face a U.S. side oozing confidence after their Ghana win.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s participation remains doubtful as he continues to struggle with a knee injury, but it is hard to see him miss out in a match that his side simply must win to stay alive in the tournament.

FIXTURES THIS WEEKEND:

TODAY:

6 pm – Argentina v Iran (Group F)

9 pm – Germany v Ghana (Group G)

12 am – Nigeria v Bosnia (Group F)

TOMORROW:

6 pm – Belgium v Russia (Group H)

9 pm – Korea v Algeria (Group H)

12 am – USA v Portugal (Group G)

WEEKEND HIGHLIGHT:

Other than it being a massive weekend for Africa, the Portugal/USA match commands attention as Ronaldo and company look to avoid being the next major side embarrassed in Brazil.

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