Persianfootball.com – CURITIBA, Iran will take on Nigeria on Monday June 16 at Arena da Baixada in the Group F match of 2014 FIFA World Cup. This year it will be the Super Eagles’s 5th appearance at the World Cup Finals only one more than Team Melli. Super Eagles are powered by Vincent Enyeama, Joseph Yobo and reserve keeper Austin Ejide who will be experiencing their third World Cup. Also it will be the second World Cup for Uwa Echiejile and Peter Odemwingie both of whom featured for the Super Eagles at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
The two oil-rich nations are members of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), Iran a founding-member in 1960 and Nigeria who joined in 1971.
However despite their OPEC friendship, in the football world they remain strangers as their previous encounters can be summed-up to a single match played in 1998 Carlsberg Cup in Hong Kong. In that match out of Team Melli players only 8 ended up as being part of the 1998 World Cup Squad, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, Mehdi Pashazadeh, Naim Saadavi, Mehrdad Minavand, Afshin Peyrovani, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Hamidreza Estili and Alireza Mansourian. While only 3 Nigerians went on to France later that year as part of Nigeria’s world cup team, Star player Daniel Amokachi, Uche Okafor, along with William Okpara, who was the second-choice Goalkeeper.
Although throughout the history of Iranian Football there have been at least a dozen Nigerian nationals who played their trade in Iran. The first Nigerian to play in Iran was Said Agyen Sagna who joined Poora Tehran in 1991, then from 2003 onwards other Nigerians signed with Iranian clubs. Most notable acquisition was Taribo West who joined Peykan Tehran in 2007 and strangely did not play a single minute and continued to remain on the bench. Another Nigerian by the name of Daniel Olerum became Iran Pro-League’s joint-top scorer for the 2006/07 season with 17 goals while playing for FC Aboomoslem Mashhad, unfortunately for this talented
striker who aspired to play for either the Super Eagles or Team Melli never recieved a call-up from both federations and had his dreams vanished forever.
This game is certainly Team Melli’s most crucial game which Carlos Queiroz had told his squad that this game should be treated like a ‘Final’ as anything but a win could jeopardise Team Melli’s chances of advancing to the next-round. Iran won’t be taking Nigeria lightly and as part of their preparation had faced South African club sides and national sides of Guinea, Angola and as well as Trinidad and Tobago
in friendly matches. Being united and fully focused will be the key for Team Melli’s success in an extremely tough match against a formidable opponent, a team that desires to achieve similar success or perhaps better than Nigeria’s golden generation of 1994 and 1998.
Head to Head Match Details as per footballdatabase.eu and teammelli.com’s match database:
Date: 28/01/1998 – Location: Hong Kong.
Referee: Peter Mikkelsen(Denmark) – Attendance: 6,000.
Carlsberg Cup – Nigeria vs Iran 1:0(0:0).
Goals: Garba Ahmed(50′).
Iran: Ahmadreza Abedzadeh(c) – Mehdi Pashazadeh, Naim Saadavi, Afshin Peyrovani, Farshad Falahatzadeh – Alireza Mansourian, Reza Rezaei-Manesh, Hamidreza Estili, Mehrdad Minavand – Mehdi Mahdavikia, Ali Asghar Modir-Rousta.
Subs: Ebrahim Tahami, Daryoosh Yazdani, Farhad Majidi, Sirous Dinmohammadi.
Head Coach: Tomislav Ivic(Croatia).
Nigeria: William Okpara – Jero Shakpoke, Ganiyu Ajide, Pascal Karibe Ojigwe, Kingsley Obiekwu – Uche Okafor, Henry Onwuzuruike, Garba Ahmed – Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Ebiede, Gabriel Okolosi.
Head Coach: Bora Milutinovic(Serbia).