Nigeria enter into the 2014 World Cup after dominating a majority of their opponents in CAF World Cup Qualifying. The Nigerians didn’t win many games in blowouts, but their defensive ability and midfield fluidity were able to keep opponents from scoring and helped lead to several key 1-0 victories.
Led by a midfield that includes speedy youth and seasoned veterans, the Nigerians are one of the most underrated teams in this tournament and could easily sneak into the knockout stage — especially if Liverpool’s Victor Moses has the type of tournament that many expect him to have.
Nigeria have something that fellow Group F sides Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina don’t, and that is tough defense. The Super Eagles boast one of the most solid and technical backlines in the entire tournament. Late in games when the Nigerians are trying to hold onto a lead, they will be able to push through their opponent’s attacks and win.
Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina are both very streaky teams, and Nigeria’s physicality and athleticism in the midfield will be able to keep them from going on streaks. I don’t think they can steal points against Argentina, but I do predict that the Super Eagles will make it out of the group stage, but will fall in the first game of the knockout stages.
Group Stage Game One: Nigeria vs. Iran – Sunday, June 15, 3 p.m. EST on ESPN
Group Stage Game Two: Nigeria vs. Bosnia – Saturday, June 21, 6 p.m. EST on ESPN.
Group Stage Game Three: Nigeria vs. Argentina – Wednesday, June 25, Noon EST on ESPN