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World Cup pre-game: Iran vs. Nigeria

Second place is up for grabs, with Argentina very likely to top this group. So both Iran and Nigeria are looking to take an early win. But don’t count out Bosnia-Herzegovina from that second spot. The pressure is on Iran and Nigeria from the start.

Second Group F opening match critical for both teams

As seen here, Iran's Steven Beitashour is a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the MLS. He will have to make an impact if Iran hopes to advance. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Group F: Iran vs. Nigeria

  • June 16, 3 p.m. ET
  • CBC TV, streaming online at cbc.ca/fifaworldcup

What’s at stake

Second place is up for grabs, with Argentina very likely to top this group. So both Iran and Nigeria are looking to take an early win. But don’t count out Bosnia-Herzegovina from that second spot. The pressure is on Iran and Nigeria from the start.

Nigeria are winless in their last eight World Cup matches. And Iran is on a four-game losing streak at the World Cup.

A victory by either team would be a huge boost to their confidence and their Group F fortunes.

Impact players

  • Iran: Reza Ghoochannejhad (Gucci). A natural goal-poacher who’s also a clinical finisher. He made his Iranian debut in a 1-0 victory against Korea Republic in October 2012 and scored three goals in qualifying.
  • Nigeria: John Obi Mikel. A dynamic two-way midfielder known for his physical style, and his ability to get forward in support of the attack. Mikel missed 2010 due to injury, but has plenty of international experience.

What to watch for

This may well be a low-scoring affair.

Nigeria scored the fewest goals of all 31 teams that reached the World Cup via qualification, netting just 11 times.

Iran scored just eight times in the final round of qualifying, and they lack a marquee forward who can regularly find the net.

They said it

  • "The bigger the occasion, the better he plays.” Iran’s manager Carlos Queiroz speaking recently of his team’s captain Javad Nekonam to The Guardian.
  • "I know that my situation is unusual, but for me it is only football. It's something I love doing." US-born Steven Beitashour - a defender for the Vancouver Whitecaps - spoke about his decision to play for Iran to Globo Esporte.

The Big Number

One — Iran has precisely one victory at the World Cup. And it came against the Americans in 1998. They would love to double their victories coming out of this opening games.

Obligatory Fun Fact

Steven Beitashour was born and raised in San Jose, California and worked for Apple before becoming a professional footballer. Both of his parents were born in Iran.

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