The Nigerians were bitterly disappointing in their opening game as they failed to break down Iran and drew 0-0. They created a couple of chances but never really looked like scoring and their balls into the box were pitiful at times. It didn’t come as much of a shock though as Stephen Keshi’s side have struggled in front of goal for a while now and while the Iranians are limited, they certainly know how to defend. Assuming that Argentina beat Iran, a second draw for Nigeria would leave them in second place in Group F with just one game to go. The problem with that is they still have to play the Argentines and it’s doubtful that they’ll take anything from that match. It means that Nigeria simply have to go all-out for the win against Bosnia and they need Fenerbahce striker, Emmanuel Emenike, to play better than he did on Monday. Top scorer during qualifying, the 27 year old netted 12 times in 28 league appearances for the Turks last term and assuming that he keeps his place, he could cause the Bosnian defence some trouble.
Opponents, Bosnia & Herzegovina, got their hardest game of the group out of the way in the opening round of fixtures, and they were perhaps a touch unlucky not to come away with anything. After immediately shooting themselves in the foot by scoring an own goal, they grew into the game and looked capable of grabbing an equaliser. A deflected Lionel Messi shot put a stop to that though and while Vedad Ibisevic came off the bench to give them a late lifeline, they couldn’t quite find a second. Ibisevic will surely be restored to the starting line-up for this clash as his partnership with Edin Dzeko was key to their success in qualifying. The duo netted 18 of the 30 goals that Safet Susic’s team scored in their qualifying group and I expect the manager only benched the Stuttgart striker as they were playing Argentina. The Bosnians can be a bit shaky at the back and they will have to watch out for Nigeria on the counter. Whoever gets the nod in the holding midfield role will have to be disciplined, but the entire defence did manage to do a decent job on Messi, Aguero and Higuain last Sunday.
The Europeans are a stand-out bet to me at near evens here. They are in a different class to their African opponents and while Nigeria don’t lose that often, they rarely play teams of this calibre in competitive matches. Bosnia should have too much in the forward areas and they will actually take more confidence from their opening game than Nigeria did, despite them losing and Nigeria drawing. The recent score lines of both nations would point to this match being relatively low-scoring – and that is reflected in the prices. I wouldn’t be so sure though as a draw doesn’t really do much for either side. I appreciate that it would keep Bosnia on target to finish as runners-up to Argentina, but I’m confident that they’ll be desperate to get a win under their belts. Dzeko and Ibisevic are two quality strikers, and then at the other end, Emenike, can be unplayable on his day. We could be in for quite an entertaining match here – even more so if you back Over 2.5 goals at odds against.
+2.94 Units (5-4)