Who’d have believed at the start of the tournament that with just one Group F match remaining in the 2014 World Cup, Iran would have a good chance of progressing to the knockout stage.
Even Iran didn’t envision being within a shot of qualifying, but that’s the reality facing them in Salvador.
With Nigeria likely to lose to Argentina in the group’s other match, all Iran need to do to progress is find their way to victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina—a team that haven’t lived up to their World Cup expectations so far.
Venue: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Date: Wednesday, June 25
Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
TV Info: ITV4/ESPN2 (U.S.)
Iran to Give Their All in Knockout-Stage Push
If the Iranians can find a way past Bosnia, with other results going in their favour elsewhere, it’ll be the first time that they’ve ever qualified for the last 16 of a World Cup.
They proved during their 0-0 draw with Nigeria and 1-0 loss to Argentina, though, that they’re more than ready for the challenge.
Their no-fear approach to playing one of the tournament’s favourites, Argentina, was admirable, and the way that they kept Lionel Messi quiet for the duration was stunning.
That was, until the Barcelona star curled in a beautiful left-footed strike to hand the South Americans a 1-0 victory.
However, it was clear that Iran deserved more from the game, reflected by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl via Twitter:
Just saw the Messi goal. Clutch. Sounds like Iran deserved better. Love the unpredictability of this World Cup.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 21, 2014
With the loss doing very little damage to their goal difference, and sitting just three points behind Nigeria, Iran will be in the mood to go for it in Salvador.
Fulham’s Ashkan Dejagah told FIFA.com that it’s goals that Iran will be hunting against the Bosnians as they look to build on two strong World Cup performances:
Hopefully this third match will bring another step up. We'll definitely be going for goals and we still have a chance to go through, I'm sure of that. What we need to do is take the good things we've done so far, improve a little bit in other areas and give everything to beat Bosnia. If we do that—and I think it's a game we can win—we can still qualify.
Bosnia will put up a good fight, though, and while they’ve failed to register a single point so far, they harbour some real talent in their ranks.
Safet Susic’s side were very unlucky to have a goal chalked out during their 1-0 loss to Nigeria, and star man Edin Dzeko lamented what could have been afterwards—per Bleacher Report:
Though the Bosnians are going home, albeit unfairly, they’ll look to go out with a bang in their first-ever World Cup at the expense of Iran.
Before the World Cup started, you’d have looked at this tie and called it a banker in favour of Bosnia.
However, with Iran proving that they’re not in Brazil to simply make up the numbers, and the tournament treating us to endless shocks already, Wednesday’s tie could be another to go against the odds.
Dejagah and Co. are clearly in the mood to score goals and make history, and while Bosnia are an excellent side on paper, having nothing to play for may see them defeated for the third game in succession.
Prediction: Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-3 Iran