Nigeria v Iceland Preview: Will the Super Eagles be able to overcome the World Cup's surprise package?

Nigeria v Iceland Preview: Will the Super Eagles be able to overcome the World Cup's surprise package?

Nigeria and Iceland encounter each other on Friday in the second round of games in Group D, playing at the Volgograd Arena.

Ryan White

Having had contrasting results in the first round of games, Group D sees Nigeria take on Iceland this Friday in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.

The Super Eagles did not enjoy much success in their opener against Croatia, where goals either side of half-time saw the African nation fall to defeat. As for Iceland, coming up in front of a frightening attack which consisted the names such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria did not strike fear into Strákarnir Okkar as they held Argentina to an extraordinary one-apiece draw.

Nigeria will bow out of the 2018 World Cup if Croatia can beat Argentina on Thursday evening and they fail to pick up at least a point on Friday.


Embed from Getty Images

Can Alfred Finnbogason grab the headlines again?

Iceland initially went a goal behind to Argentina in their competition opener, however, were able to find an equaliser and sustain that score line for the majority of the game, despite being heavy underdogs prior to kick-off.

Goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, the country's 34 year-old shot-stopper and a part-time film maker, may have become the hero of a nation after his penalty save denied Barcelona star Lionel Messi from opening his account at this year's World Cup; but it is striker Alfred Finnbogason of German outfit FC Augsburg who is the Icelandic threat in Russia.

The ex-Real Sociedad man has scored in his last three appearances for Iceland - Finnbogason also netted against Norway and Ghana in the build-up to this tournament after a calf injury kept him out in the March internationals. 

Nigeria face difficult challenge to beat Iceland

Nigeria host a handful of talented, skilful Premier League footballers, but in recent times the African nation has struggled to set the world alight as the country fails to gel when it comes to major tournaments. 

German-born manager Gernot Rohr is coaching the likes of Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi, Chelsea wing-back Victor Moses and Leicester City trio; Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi and Ahmed Musa. However, the Super Eagles regularly do not live up to expectations at the international stage, especially at the biggest of them all.

Nigeria have tallied just one victory in their last thirteen World Cup outings - that coming against Bosnia and Herzegovina four years ago in Brazil when Peter Odemwingie scored the only goal of the game - in fact, they have only accumulated one win in this competition since 1998.

Iceland may not be a Brazil or Germany, but a determined country coming up against a nation with little success at the World Cup may just spell disaster for Nigeria.

Very little history between these two countries

Nigeria and Iceland, both who were overwhelmingly underdogs to make it past the group stage before this tournament began, have  met each other on one previous occasion; coming some 37 years ago.

Played in Reykjavík, 1981, as an international friendly it would be the hosts who walked away triumphant in the country's first and only encounter with Nigeria -  in front of a crowd of just 1,100 supporters. 

Whilst Nigeria may not be abundant in confidence as we approach kick-off, their five World Cup wins have all come against European teams so there is a glamour of hope for the Super Eagles for this Friday's meeting.