Coming off of a hard fought loss against Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina will look to take control of its own destiny and work towards securing a place in the final 16. Meanwhile, African champions Nigeria came out with a poor showing against Iran, managing a 0-0 draw. Those who believe the weather can have an impact on matches will be expecting Nigeria to be the more comfortable side in the heat of Cuiaba, a city in the very middle of South America where average winter temperatures are in the higher 20s Celsius.
After the Argentina match, Susic remained positive and up-beat about his team´s chances:
“We haven’t shown everything we are capable of yet,” Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Safet Susic said. “I hope that Argentina will win their other two games, because if they do then the second spot will be between Iran, Nigeria and Bosnia . I am convinced that we still have everything to play for.”
A loss for Bosnia would eliminate them from advancing to the knockout stages, however, Safet Susic's has reportedly pledged to start Vedad Ibisevic against Nigeria. This will reunite Ibisevic with Dzeko, who were crucial in Bosnia scoring 30 goals in 10 World Cup qualifiers. What Bosnia failed to do against Argentina was to find tall striker Edin Dzeko, their top player and the card they must play well to grab a place in the last 16. Dzeko makes off the ball runs to allow the midfielders to race through into scoring spaces but Bosnia really need him as a finisher to overcome Nigeria’s best performer, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, so Ibisevic could fit into his role and help Bosnia on its way to the knockout stages.
Stephen Keshi's Nigeria expected to beat Iran and will see the second game as a must-win, given that they will play Argentina in its last group game. The manager told his players to get their minds off of the poor result, but criticism from Nigerian suppoters isn't helping with former Nigerian player Jay-Jay Okocha slamming Keshi and his tactics after the match against Iran.
“That’s like a final match for us,” Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama said.
Reaching the knockout stage for only the third time is motivation in itself, but Nigeria’s players are even more determined to succeed in Brazil in the wake of a suicide bombing attack against a World Cup viewing site in the northeast of their home country on Tuesday. Police say 14 people were killed and at least 26 wounded in the blast.
“We know that beating Bosnia will not bring back the lives of all those who are dead,” Emmanuel Attah, the team’s coordinator, said, “but then it is our own way of saying ‘sorry for the loss.’”
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.
Three other players - Kenneth Omeruo, Ahmed Musa and Reuben Gabriel - could also be absent for Nigeria
Bosnia’s captain Emir Spahic is doubtful with a knee injury after being ruled out of Thursday’s practice. The central defender left the training ground with a huge ice block strapped around his left knee.
Midfielder Sejad Salihovic, who can also be deployed as a left back, is struggling to shake off a long-term injury but assistant coach Borce Sredojevic was confident he would recover.
“I am optimistic about Spahic’s chances because we all know his will-power and what he means to the team,” Sredojevic told reporters in Bosnia’s Guaruja base
Nigeria will find it tough to beat a well organized Bosnia side and Susic turns to the 4-4-2 formation with Ibisevic and Dzeko up top, it could mean trouble for Nigeria's defense; 2-0 Bosnia.