Nigeria need to simply avoid defeat to qualify for knockout stages

2014-06-25 00:00

IT’S another big night for Africa as Nigeria, well positioned in Group F, look to secure qualification to the knockout stages of the World Cup.

They come up against an Argentinean side who still haven’t hit their straps at the tournament after narrow victories against Bosnia and then Iran, but the Lionel Messi factor has been enough to see them go unscathed so far.

To progress, Nigeria need to simply avoid defeat, and they can still go through if they lose and Iran don’t beat Bosnia in the other 6 pm kick-off tonight.

Iran, who have impressed defensively at the tournament so far, should struggle against Bosnia so it all paints a positive picture for Steve Keshi’s Nigerians. If they do go through in second position in the group, a daunting last 16 tie against France awaits Nigeria.

The French have been in riveting form so far, having netted eight goals in their two matches to top Group E. They take on Ecuador tonight and don’t look like slipping up. Ecuador and Switzerland are both on three points in that group, and the Swiss will be favourites to progress when they take on Honduras at 10 pm.

But it has been a World Cup of upsets so far. One had to have a chuckle at Iranian midfielder Dejagah’s subtle dig when he pointed out that his side were still in the running for group qualification while Spain and England were both eliminated before the final round of fixtures even took place. It’s been that kind of a tournament.

Meanwhile, after Monday night’s action we now know that Brazil will play Chile in the round of 16 while Holland take on Mexico. Chile, responsible for dumping out the world champions, suggested in that match that they would be a force to be reckoned with at the tournament. But they were humbled by the Dutch, who are looking serious contenders, and Brazil will surely move into the quarters. The Holland versus Mexico clash should go the way of the Dutch, but Mexico are undefeated after three and have only conceded once.


6 pm – Nigeria v Argentina, Bosnia v Iran (Group F)

10 pm – Honduras v Switzerland, Ecuador v France (Group E)


Undoubtedly Nigeria v Argentina at 6 pm.

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