The FIFA World Cup’s second round is approaching, and the fate of many teams in group play has yet to be decided. While some fans will put their team’s fate in fickle officiating, others might be able see their teams advance on circumstantial possibilities. In particular, Iran can make it to the Round of 16 if they manage a victory against Bosnia and if they receive a little help from the Argentinians in the process.
Iran will play against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday, and in order to fulfill the first circumstantial contingency, they will need at least a 1-0 victory over the Bosnians. Iran’s defense has proved to be difficult to break down for opponents. Bosnia, who has yet to receive a point in group play, will be Iran’s last chance to make it to the second round in the 2014 World Cup.
The second contingency in Iran’s progression is the game between Argentina and Nigeria. In order for Iran to rack up enough points in group play, Argentina must beat Nigeria 1-0. In that event, Iran and Nigeria will be on equal footing in group play. At that point, the determining factor of which team will progress out of Group F as the second seed: a coin toss. If Argentina beats Nigeria by more than one goal, the coin toss is out the window and Iran will play the top seed in Group E on June 30.
After a heartfelt game against Argentina, Iran will now need the likes of Lionel Messi to beat Nigeria. If Iran continues to be strong defensively, they stand a chance to allow for their offense to score against the Bosnians, who have already allowed three goals so far this World Cup.
At this point, Iran’s coach, Carlos Queiroz, knows that the most important thing for his team to do is to forget about their last game against Argentina. The loss came after Iran was able to subdue Argentina’s firepower for the complete 90 minutes, only to be stripped of the draw point in the added minute of stoppage time, when Messi nabbed the game-winner for his team. “My main concern is to keep players focused,” Queiroz added.
Undoubtedly Iranian forward Reza Ghoochannejhad and midfielder Ashkan Dejagah are more than focused on the task ahead. Iran has not scored yet this tournament, however with the support of a strong defense, Ghoochannejhad and Dejagah are more than capable of producing for the team. After all, they do have the advantage over Bosnia, who are going home no matter what.
The question is what Queiroz will do to his lineup to better situate Iran for a victory tomorrow. The game will be played at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, during the same time that Argentina will be facing off with Nigeria in Porto Alegre. For that reason, the fates of Nigeria and Iran will not be known until the conclusion of each teams’ respective match. What is known, however, is that Iran has a fighting chance to stay in the World Cup and make it to the Round of 16.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering World Cup Group F