Bosnia seek another first with victory over Nigeria

Bosnia hope to get off the mark with victory over the African champions

Edin Dzeko: The striker needs to be at his best if Bosnia are to beat Nigeria. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Edin Dzeko: The striker needs to be at his best if Bosnia are to beat Nigeria. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

 

For Bosnia, a victory at the World Cup finals would be another first with African champions Nigeria in their sights at the Arena Pantanal in Group F today.

One of the many splinter nations of the former Yugoslavia, who were a soccer power in their day, they may be newcomers on the sport’s biggest stage but naivete is not a part of their makeup.

Coach Safet Susic, a former Yugoslavia playmaker, is targeting a place in the next round at the expense of a Nigeria side who appear in the process of disappointing again as they did at two previous finals this century.

Bosnia put Argentina, among the favourites for the title, under pressure on their debut on Sunday after giving away an early own goal and scored a smart consolation though substitute Vedad Ibisevic, the nation’s first World Cup goal.

What Bosnia failed to do, which may have been the merit of the Argentinian defence, was to find striker Edin Dzeko, their top player and the card they must play well to grab a place in the last 16. Disciplined unit Bosnia showed against Argentina that they are a compact and disciplined unit and if they play patiently they should upset Nigeria, whose potential has fallen since the talented side of the 1990s reached the second round twice and won Olympic gold.

Nigeria lost defender Godfrey Oboabona to injury against Iran with Joseph Yobo, a veteran of the 2002 and 2010 finals, set to replace him.

Coach Stephen Keshi also looks set to start Peter Odemwingie up front alongside Emmanuel Emenike.

Bosnia’s captain Emir Spahic is doubtful with a knee injury after being ruled out of Thursday’s practice.

Susic seems to be pondering whether to stick to a conservative 4-5-1 formation which looked well organised but lacked bite against Argentina or finally unleash his more preferred 4-4-2 with Ibisevic starting alongside Dzeko.

Probable teams

NIGERIA: Enyeama; Ambrose, Oshaniwa, Omeruo, Yobo; Mikel, Onazi, Moses, Musa; Odemwingie, Emenike

BOSNIA: Begovic; Mujdza, Spahic (or Toni Sunjic), Bicakcic, Kolasinac; Pjanic, Besic, Misimovic, Lulic; Ibisevic, Dzeko

Some key stats

Nigeria are still waiting for a win after eight World Cup matches since wins over Spain and Bulgaria at France 98

The African champions came to Brazil targeting a place in the last 16 after failing to get out of their group in the 2002 and 2010 finals

Previous meetings None

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