By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 16th 2014)
Carlos Quierozʼ Iran are hard to beat as Stephen Keshiʼs African champions found to their cost. Emmanuel Emenike was said to be likely to be one of the stars of the World Cup, but the he had a terrible outing – his team-mates didnʼt do much better. This was supposed to be the weakest side, but chances were few and far between.
Shola Ameobi started on the bench, but replaced Victor Moses 7 minutes into the second half, but his glancing headers did not require Haghighi to make a save. Another substitute Peter Odemwingie was wrongly penalised for handball as his shot flashed just wide. He correctly pointed to his shoulder, but it made no difference.
Ahmed Musaʼs 31st minute free-kick showed the creativity required, but there was too little of it. Shaping to cross Musa shot instead leaving Haghighi to make the scramble to deny him at the expense of a corner. Moses had the first opportunity just two minutes into the match as he drove forward on the left flank before cutting inside and shooting. Sadly it summed up the match – a weak toe-poke straight at the keeper, who gathered the ball gratefully. Five minutes the officials got it wrong denying Nigeria and the game the goal that it desperately needed but never got. Haghighi came for the ball and failed to get it. After the scramble Musa scored from close range, but it was disallowed.
The best chance fell to Charlton Athleticʼs Dutch-born Iranian Reza Ghoochannejhad. His header from a corner won by Fulhamʼs Ashkan Dejagah required an acrobatic save from the Super-Eaglesʼ captain – the record-setting Vincent Enyeama.