Nigeria comes into today’s Group F match one point ahead of Bosnia and Heregovina, but the Super Eagles are in a worse situation than their cellar-dwelling foes. Coming off a 0-0 draw with Iran, Stephen Keshi’s team wasted its best chance to claim points at this World Cup. While that doesn’t preclude them from pulling an upset going forward, it does means their patch to the knockout round runs uphill.
For Bosnia and Herzegovina, the points column may read “0”, but their plans are still in tact. After a loss against Argentina to open their tournament, the World Cup debutants have their two easiest games in front of them. Win them both, and Safet Sušić’s team makes the final 16.
Here are the teams for today’s 3:00 p.m. Eastern kickoff in Cuiabá.
Nigeria: Enyeama; Ambrose, Oshaniwa, Yobo, Omeruo; Mikel, Onazi; Musa, Odemwingie, Babatunde; Enemike
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Begovic; Mujdza, Blcakcic, Spahic, Sunjic; Pjanic, Besic; Medunjanin, Misimovic, Lulic; Dezko
1. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, it starts now – Sušić wouldn’t have come to Brazil without a plan to get out of Group F without points against Argentina. In that sense, the real challenge for Bosnia starts now. After a close game playing as decided underdogs, they’ll play their next 180 minutes as favorites. If they can avoid playing down to their competition, Bosnia and Herzegovina can earn themselves a fourth game. That journey starts now.
2. Different game for the Super Eagles – In their opener against Iran, Nigeria was allowed to control possession. Although they never broke through, the Super Eagles’ defense were given most of the day off. Against Bosnia, however, Nigeria could end up on the wrong end of the possession battle, forcing them to play an entirely different game. Given how game one ended, that may not be a bad thing.
Expectation: There’s always a lot of love for African teams, particularly from a generation of fans who saw Cameroon exit in the quarterfinals of Italy 1990. As a result, some hold out hopes that Nigeria can get past a Bosnia side with almost no World Cup experience. More broadly, however, the Bosnians are expected to get through.
One blogger’s prediction: Bosnia breaks through in the first, adds insurance in the second, and ties a bow on it late. 3-0 to the favorites.