DailyMail — Iran will face its first challenge against Nigeria in handful of hours and below are some facts and stats about the two teams.
Group F: Iran v Nigeria
Venue: Iran v Nigeria
Kick-off: Arena de Baixada, Curitiba
Odds: Iran 13/5, Draw 21/10, Nigeria 23/20
Referee: Carlos Vera (Ecuador)
Managers: Carlos Queiroz (Portugal) and Stephen Keshi (Nigeria)
Key clash: Reza Ghoochannejhad v Joseph Yobo
Charlton’s Ghoochannejhad is the key to Iran’s counterattacking play and Nigerian captain Yobo will be keen to keep him under lock and key as he is likely to be troubled by the youngsters pace. Iran will work hard in defence and then hope Ghoochannejhad can make the breakthrough.
One to watch: Kenneth Omeruo (Nigeria)
Chelsea youngster Omeruo spent time on loan at Middlesbrough last season but has recently been a key man in Nigeria’s defence despite his youthfulness. The 20-year-old starred as Nigeria won the African Cup of Nations and will be looking to put himself on the map ahead of another likely loan move this summer.
Head-to-head record: Played 1 Nigeria wins 1
Nigeria manager Stephen Keshi believes opposite number Carlos Queiroz is Iran’s biggest threat at the World Cup.
The sides meet in Curitiba on Monday and it is a game which could provide the best chance for either side to take three points.
Iran came into the tournament as perhaps the least fancied of all 32 nations but in Quieroz they have a well travelled campaigner at the helm.
He has managed his native Portugal, as well as South Africa and the United Arab Emirates at international level, had a brief tenure at Real Madrid and spent several years as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United.
As for his own side, Keshi is relying on an experienced spine to steer an otherwise youthful group.
Queiroz knows Iran are up against it on the biggest stage of all, but has a simple game plan to maximise their chances.
He has called for focus, enjoyment and a refusal to admit defeat.
- Iran have won only one of their nine games at the World Cup, against USA in 1998 (2-1).
- Carlos Queiroz’s side have never kept a clean sheet in a World Cup game.
- Nigeria are winless in their last eight World Cup games (D2 L6). It’s the longest current drought among the 32 teams taking part in 2014.
- The one previous meeting between Iran and Nigeria came in a friendly in 1998; the Super Eagles won 1-0.
- No team scored more goals than Iran in the 2014 Asian World Cup qualifiers (30).
- Nigeria’s three goals at the 2010 World Cup all came from set piece situations (one penalty, one direct free kick and one from a throw-in).
- Over half (11/21) of the goals that Nigeria have conceded at World Cups have come from set plays, however (three corners, two direct free kicks, four indirect free kicks and two penalties).
No goalkeeper kept more clean sheets in the top five European leagues in 2013/14 than Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama (21, for Lille).