Nigeria take on Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba on June 22, from 11pm GMT.
Head to head
Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina have never versed each other in international competition.
Both teams will be in need of a victory after being unable to secure maximum points in their respective opening games in Group F.
Bosnia-Herzegovina will be the favourites to take the win when they face the Super Eagles, following an impressive performance against a star-studded Argentina squad on June 16.
Nigeria’s 0-0 draw with Iran did no favours in suggesting that the African side would be capable of mounting a challenge for qualification, however, Bosnia-Herzegovina will need to be disciplined at the back to hold off a Nigeria side that knows this is a must-win match.
The big issue
The main issue facing both teams is their capability to convert chances into goals.
When Bosnia-Herzegovina took on a packed Argentina defence last week, there were very few goal-scoring opportunities. Against Nigeria those chances should come more regularly and must be taken.
One player who will be directly involved in any forward movement of the ball is 21-year-old Muhamed Besic. His distribution from the Bosnia-Herzegovina midfield against the Argentines was effective and if he can have the confidence to do so again, alongside Miralem Pjanic, then a win is on the cards.
Nigeria’s main issue against Iran was breaking through a defence with no recognisable star players, and that same struggle is likely to present itself against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Even with 69% possession against Iran, the Super Eagles showed that they are creatively weak and will need to improve on their movement in the final-third if they stand a chance of making it past the group stage.
The game breaker
Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Edin Dzeko was unable to find the net against Argentina, but the Manchester City striker will fancy his chances on late Saturday/ Sunday. He’ll be the focus of the Nigerian defence so if he can exploit that, chances will open up for his team-mates.
For Nigeria it is Ogenyi Onazi. No Nigerian midfielder had a better passing accuracy than Onazi (82%) against Iran, and the defensive midfielder will be a key player in turning defence into attack for the Super Eagles.
Culled from FourFourTwo.