The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said it has uncovered a plot by Bosnia to throw their last group game against Iran to the Asians to ensue Nigeria did not qualify for the second round.
Iran must beat Bosnia to have any hope of making it to the second round in place of Nigeria.
The Bosnians have been seething since they lost 1-0 to the Super Eagles on Saturday, alleging that the centre referee, Peter O’Leary from New Zealand, was biased in favour Nigeria in the game.
A win for Bosnia-Herzegovina in their last game Wednesday would be a consolation to the World Cup campaign that saw a brave 1-2 loss to Argentina and a disappointing 0-1 loss to Nigeria.
Bosnia has never beaten Iran in an official match before, the most recent match ending in a 2-3 loss in a friendly in Sarajevo.
Bosnia’s first ever national team match since independence actually came against Iran in 1993. The unofficial match ended 3-1 in the Bosnians’ favor. Twenty years later, the two teams meet again in the world’s grandest stage.
NFF’s Media Committee Chairman, Emeka Inyama, said early Tuesday that the Federation had it on good authority that the Bosnians have reached an agreement to sell the game to the Iranians.
He called on FIFA to monitor all the last group game to avoid match-fixing, which could bring the game to disrepute.
Inyama said: “The Bosnians allege that the referee was against them, but they should watch that game again to see if the referee in any way supported us.
“They alleged that the referee celebrated with Vincent Enyeama after the game, but they don’t know that Enyeama usually do all sorts of things while celebrating victory.
“At the end of the 2013 Nations Cup, Enyeama nearly lifted the referee to celebrate Nigeria’s victory. Will they say that he did that because the referee helped us to win.
“People should learn to accept defeat and move on. This is Bosnia’s first appearance at the World Cup and by statistics, they have done well for debutants.
“They should aspire to end the campaign on a high by beating Iran. Bosnia does not deserve to be at the bottom of the table.”
The Bosnian camp has been somber since they lost to Nigeria. The team even skipped the training session scheduled for the day after the Nigeria match.
The biggest attacking threat for Bosnia is Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko, who has 35 goals to his name in 64 games for the national team. He will look to score his first ever World Cup goal against Iran.
Today’s game is Iran’s fourth appearance in the World Cup, but they have never advanced past the group stage.
Iran came first in the Asian qualifying group ahead of South Korea, Uzbekistan, Qatar, and Lebanon.
Iran relies on experienced central midfielder, 33 year-old Javad Nekounam, who has 142 caps and 37 goals for the national team.
Nekounam, alongside defensive midfielder, Teymourian, is expected to provide leadership and creativity for ‘Team Melli’.
Teymourian, who did excellent defensive work against Argentina, has 81 caps for the national team. In Fulham’s winger, Ashkan Dejagah, who was Edin Dzeko’s teammate in Wolfsburg, Iran has a big attacking threat.
He was arguably his side’s best player in his side’s 0-1 loss to Argentina. Other notable players are center-back Hosseini and left-back Pooladi, who managed to contain Argentina’s forwards for most parts of the match and who played great against Nigeria in Iran’s first match.
The Bosnian defense will have to be alert for counter the treat of center-forward, Reza Ghoochannejhad as well, who has 10 goals in 16 games for the national team.
Iran played the 4-2-3-1 formation for both of their previous World Cup matches and we will expect them to do the same against Bosnia.
Iran is coming into this match with motivation to win. This may change the way they play against Bosnia compared to their matches against Nigeria and Argentina where they mainly defended for most parts of the matches.
They will look to attack and create more chances. This could open up holes that Pjanic, Dzeko, and other Bosnian players can exploit.
A win, a Nigeria loss to Argentina, and a superior goal difference to Nigeria would take them to the Round of 16. – Guardian.