• Boznia-Herzegovina
  • Iran
  • Nigeria
  • Argentina
  • Prediction
  • Matches
Tab 1
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Bosnia - Herzegovina

Current World Ranking 25th

One of the former Yugoslav republics, Bosnia &Herzegovina are making their debut in a World Cup finals although they only narrowly missed out in the 2010 campaign, going out in a play-off against Portugal. They have some real talent in their squad. Roma’s Pjanic, Stuttgart’s Ibesivic are two to watch out for, and with ex-Skate Asmir Begovic in goal and Man City striker Edin Dzeko up front they will cause more than a few problems for their opponents. Scoring 30 goals in qualifying while conceding just 6, coach Safet Susic has got them playing in a simple if effective style ..... Lump it up to the two big front men (Dzeko and Ibisevic). It seems to have worked for them so far. Dzeko, with 10 goals in qualifying, was second highest scorer in Europe behind Robin Van Persie.

With their opening game against Argentina on June 15th we shall soon see how it fares against the group favourites.

Known for their flare-throwing fans and strop-throwing players, when things don’t go their way, I suspect that their games aren’t likely to be dull affairs.

The group’s dark horse.


stbaz


Tab 2
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Iran

Current World Ranking 37th

Iranian football has an interesting, if not a world-beating, history - although more of interest to a student of politics than to one of the beautiful game. Their first International match was in 1941 against Afghanistan, but because most of the rest of the world was involved in other things at the time they had to wait until 1950 for their first ever FIFA international match. Successful in the late 1960s and into the 70s, they won the Asian Cup three times and reached the World Cup finals for the first time in 78.

That was it for a while as, after the Shah was deposed in 79, they had a nine year punch-up with their neighbours in Iraq and football was decidedly sidelined. It took the best part of 20 years before they started getting results again - notably qualifying for the 1998 finals where they memorably beat the USA 2-1. However in a heavily politicised country things were never straightforward; at one time FIFA suspended the national team for a short while, citing ‘Government Interference’ and in 2009 seven of the first XIs were ‘retired’ the day after protesting against the re-election of President Ahmadinejad. A brave, if futile gesture!

Today they seem a little more professional and focussed.

In 2011 Carlos Queiroz joined them as head coach. He has recruited players who live and play abroad, some of them even raised abroad, with some success. Probably the best known to English fans are Fulham’s Askhan Dejagah and Charlton’s Ghoochannejhad. They have some solid, professional players, typified by captain Javad Nekounam who spent 6 years playing in Spain for Osasuna.
            
Unlikely to progress but could cause problems.

(Did you know that the world’s all-time leading international goal scorer is Iranian? And he goes by the name of Ali Daei! 109 goals in 149 appearances)


stbaz


Tab 3
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Nigeria

Current World Ranking 36th

A favourite team of many when they reached the last 16 in both the 1994 and 1998 finals. They do seem to make a habit of playing Argentina in the finals, losing to them in 1994, 2002 and again in 2010.

Unfortunately it’s not just Iran who have suffered political interference; after the 2010 early exit from the WC, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan suspended the team, later rescinded, from FIFA/CAF games for two years.

Back home hopes are high for at least a last 16 place again; new coach Stephen Keshi has reinvigorated an ageing squad replacing some of their older players. Unbeaten in their World Cup qualifiers they also won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. Keshi has not only also played for Nigeria in the World Cup he has led Togo to qualification for it in 2006. There a quite a few names familiar to English football watchers in the provisional 30 man squad squad, most notably Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel and Liverpool’s Victor Moses (on loan from Chelsea), but also Shola Ameobi, Peter Odemwingie, their most capped player (94 caps) Joseph Yobo of Norwich and Middlesbrough’s Kenneth Omeruo (also on loan from Chelsea). Only 5 of their original 30 man squad play domestically.

Argentina’s toughest competitor.


stbaz


Tab 4
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Argentina

Current World Ranking 6th

Who would bet against these winning the group? But strange things do happen, remember France in 2010?
 
Winners in 1978 and again in 1986 Argentina certainly have the pedigree and their current crop of players, on paper, look a difficult challenge for anyone. Head Coach Sabella seems to have brought out the best in his players, most notably Messi who seemed to struggle internationally in his earlier days. Sabella’s appointment of little Lionel as Captain has been rewarded by 20 goals in 21 games, and the team effortlessly qualified for these finals. Despite the inclusion of Man City’s Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Dimichelis in defence, those in the know think the teams lack of experience defensively could be their weak spot. If Bosnia Herzegovina or Nigeria have the balls to go at them there could be the odd upset it is felt.

How could this team not get through to the group stage?


stbaz


Tab 5

stbaz's Prediction

As the bloke down the pub will tell you, the F in Group F stands for ‘Foregone Conclusion’. With two time World cup winners Argentina having the likes of Messi, Aguero, Di Maria and Higuain in their squad there can’t be any doubt. Can there?

Not so fast! Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria will tell you that they’re not just going to make up the numbers and give the Argies a run-out in a few practise matches. They have some real quality between them which should, at least, guarantee some worthwhile matches to watch and see that the South Americans don’t get too complacent.
 
Five of the six match pairings in this group have never been played in a World Cup finals stage before - it will be interesting to see how they pan out.

Probably Argentina and Nigeria though.

stbaz


Tab 6

Group 'F' Matches


  1. Argentina 2-1 Bosnia - 15th June 2014
  2. Iran 0-0 Nigeria - 16th June 2014
  3. Argentina 1-0 Iran - 21st June 2014
  4. Nigeria 1-0 Bosnia - 21st June 2014
  5. Nigeria 2-3 Argentina - 25th June 2014
  6. Bosnia 3-1 Iran - 25th June 2014

Click here for match reports


Group Table


As at 26.06.14

Country

P

W

D

L

GD

Pts

Argentina

3

3

0

0

3

9

Nigeria

3

1

1

1

1

4

Boznia Herzegovina

3

1

0

2

0

3

Iran

3

0

1

2

-3

1