Football

Boring! Iran Nigeria draw gets boos from the crowd

Iran and Nigeria were whistled and booed off the field by the largely Brazilian crowd after the first half of their World Cup game this morning (Singapore time).

And no wonder - both teams laboured to the first stalemate of a scintillating World Cup on Monday with a dismal 0-0 draw that left both sides still chasing their first victory at a finals since 1998.

While Iran could take some small satisfaction in keeping a clean sheet for the first time since their debut in 1978, the bore at the Baixada arena stood out like a suit salesman on Copacabana beach.

The game's first half that looked shockingly meagre compared to the goal feasts served up elsewhere.

Iran's defender Mehrdad Pooladi (R) comforts Nigeria's forward Emmanuel Emenike at the end of the Group F football match between Iran and Nigeria at the Baixada Arena in Curitiba during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 16, 2014.

Iran's defender Mehrdad Pooladi (right) comforts Nigeria's forward Emmanuel Emenike at the end of the Group F football match between Iran and Nigeria at the Baixada Arena in Curitiba on June 16, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

With Lionel Messi’s Argentina installed as clear Group F favourites, and exciting debutants Bosnia still to come, the other two look destined for an early exit unless they can raise their game considerably. 

Iran packed their defence as expected and Nigeria, with Emmanuel Emenike rarely posing a threat as the main target man for the African champions, squandered their chances with long balls to nowhere and passes straight to opponents.

The Super Eagles had the ball in the back of the net after seven minutes in a goalmouth scramble but Ecuadorean referee Carlos Vera, perhaps harshly, ruled it out for a push on goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi. Ogenyi Onazi then drilled a shot wide two minutes later.

 Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama saves a shot against Iran during their 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match at the Baixada arena in Curitiba June 16, 2014.

PHOTO: Reuters

Iran came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute when goalkeeper captain Vincent Enyeama (above) produced a fine save to beat out Reza Ghoochannejhad’s header from their first corner of the game.

Nigeria defender Godfrey Oboabona made an early exit from the fray, replaced by former captain Joseph Yobo on the half hour after earlier receiving treatment on the touchline following a heavy tackle.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi warned on Sunday that the African sides were as good as any in Brazil and could win the tournament, but on Monday’s evidence they will not be celebrating. 

Keshi said his side dominated but suffered from “nervousness and anxiety” in front of the goal. 

“We want to score and want to score and it’s not coming. We just have to calm everybody down and take it from there.” 

Next up for Iran is Argentina in Belo Horizonte on Sunday (Singapore time) and coach Carlos Queiroz said: “The most important thing is that everything is open for us.” 

Nigeria will next play Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday (Singapore time). 

Source: Reuters

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