While the odds favor Argentina to take the number one spot in FIFA World Cup’s Group F, the vie for 2nd place will continue as Nigeria meets Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday. It will be a definitive game, as Nigeria was an early-on favorite to make it out of group play alongside Argentina. Newcomers Bosnia and Herzegovina have complicated that notion following their commendable performance against Argentina. As both Nigeria and Bosnia seek to play out of Group F, the result of Saturday’s game will likely decide the fate of the group for the Round of 16.
The Super Eagles were considered by some to be one of the two teams in Group F to advance to the 2014 Wold Cup Round of 16. However, following their warm up performance against the U.S. and their lackluster draw against Iran, things are not looking as promising for Nigeria. Despite going into Saturday’s match a point ahead of the Bosnians, Nigeria faces an uphill battle as they have yet to play Argentina.
Though Bosnia suffered a 2-1 defeat against Argentina, their overall performance has labeled them a potential game-changer as the remaining Group F teams compete for a slot in the Round of 16. Having the match against Argentina under their belt, Bosnia has the chance to settle into a team-wide composure. Unlike Nigeria’s uphill battle, the most tasking game for Bosnia has already been fought. This point should not be taken too assuredly, however, as Saturday’s game presents a significant hurdle. Though Nigeria and Bosnia are looking to play out of Group F, both teams have logged injuries in its wake.
Bosnia’s central midfielder, Sejad Salihović, will be out with a hamstring injury for Saturday’s game. Complicating matters more, captain Emir Spahić suffered a knee injury, and reports have been conflicting as to whether or not he will suit up. If Spahić is able to bounce back in time, things will be easier on coach Safet Sušić. It is uncertain if Sušić will retain the 4-3-2-1 formation that he used against Argentina, and has indicated that his team has been training “in different formations and combinations” leading up to Saturday.
Nigeria will miss defender Godfrey Oboabona, who came off the pitch after sustaining an ankle injury during the Super Eagles’ World Cup match against Iran. Despite the loss of Oboabona, defender Efe Ambrose remains positive that his team will perform well against Bosnia, and claimed in an interview that the Super Eagles will give Nigerian fans “a reason to dance on Saturday.”
The three points that are at stake in Saturday’s match are crucial for both teams as they seek to play out of Group F. The injuries that both teams have suffered may be problematic, but each squad has remained confident that they will be able to perform up to speed for the match. The stakes are high, as the spot for 2nd in FIFA World Cup’s Group F is up for grabs. The 2nd place finisher in Group F will go up against the leader of Group E. As it stands now, France is likely to come out on top of Group E. Tomorrow’s game between Nigeria and Bosnia will be played at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering World Cup Group F