CURITIBA, Brazil, (Reuters) – Iran and Nigeria looked more like World Cup misfits than magicians yesterday after the first goalless stalemate of a scintillating tournament had Brazilian fans jeering and whistling in contempt.
The bore at the Baixada Arena left both unfancied sides still chasing their first victory at a finals since 1998 and with every prospect of having to wait at least another four years.
While Iran could take some small satisfaction in keeping a clean sheet for the first time since their debut in 1978, their toothless performance stood out like a suit salesman on Copacabana beach.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina are installed as clear Group F favourites and on yesterday’s evidence debutants Bosnia will fancy their chances of joining them as runners-up.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi warned on Sunday that the African sides were as good as any in Brazil and could win the tournament, but the small group of travelling fans who made it to Curitiba saw little evidence of that.
Both teams were booed off the field at the Atletico Paranaense ground by the largely Brazilian crowd of 39,000 after a first half that looked shockingly meagre compared to the goal feasts served up elsewhere.