Oluwamayowa Idowu: I often joke that God’s idea of a joke was to bless me with good looks, a big mandingo and great intellectual capacity. Then he undid all that by giving me British and Nigerian passports and then making me an Arsenal fan. Is there a more surefire recipe for a life of disappointment and hurt?
I think Nigeria have enough to get out of the group stage. Then again, you can never account for Sani Kaitaesque tomfoolery to derail a credible team. Maybe, football will be able to provide some therapy for the ineptitude of the political class.
Any defence that consists of Joseph Yobo and Efe Ambrose is capable of making Giorgio Samaras look like Maradona but the directness of Osaze Odemwingie, the underrated genius of Mikel Obi when taken away from Jose Mourinho and the so reliable and consistent it’s unreal Vincent Enyeama should stand us in good stead.
Keep Shola Ameobi far away. FAR AWAY!
Verdict: Quietly confident.
Just like Wayne Rooney’s football, the English have it in themselves to be amazing but those moments tend to be fleeting.
If things are done on merit (stop playing Wayne Rooney cos he’s Wayne Rooney) and built around the Liverpool core (and the likes of Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley) I foresee some decent football and the customary moment of inadequacy. When it’s not penalty heartbreak, it’s Seaman, Beckham or Rooney.
What are the odds that a team managed by Roy Hodgson would play a cavalier, expansive style? Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli could do very mean things. A month ago, I had a dream that Luis Suarez played the role of villain and ran off to Real Madrid. Odds on another Joel Campbell screamer?
Good enough to make it to the quarter finals.
Folarin Gbenro: England; They could struggle to get out of their group, though getting out is not impossible especially with the Suarez injury (only if he doesn’t make it) & Italy at half-mast with regards to the form of their squad. I think if lady luck and the fates are smiling on them then they could probably make it as far as the semis. Which would cue the same old next tournament “we’d win it” hullabaloo.
Nigeria; Keshi has them playing the best football than I’ve seen in almost a decade. We could not have gotten an easier group if we went to FIFA and asked to pick. I expect us to get out of that group. If we get lucky in the last 16 we should aspire to a Quarterfinal place. There I know for sure we’d meet our waterloo. I would expect us to beat Iran and Bosnia, especially as with some of the comments coming out of the Bosnian camp they seem to be underestimating our overall strength.
Tomi Idowu: If Nigeria hope to qualify they’ve got to play the same way they did at AFCON 2012. Defend deep and spring up on the counter. The transitions have to be quicker and the strengths of Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses have to be utilised. They’ve also got to come away with a result against Bosnia and Iran (who have a reputation as a very boring team) Argentina might be far fetched but they can’t afford to drop any other points if they hope to make it through.
England look like they’ve got a good squad but then when was the last time England played good football. Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard must be on top of their game if they make it through . Their group looks tough but England just might sneak through if Luis Suarez’s recent surgery hinders him in anyway because he’s definitely going to be carrying that Uruguay team.
For the first time in what seems like forever, England are going to the World cup as underdogs. By English standards it has been a very low-key build up to the tournament. The media have spoken about the fact that reaching the 2nd round could even be seen as a positive and I believe this lack of expectation could be the making of England. There is a fresh feel to the England squad with the likes of Sterling, Barkley, Sturridge, Welbeck and Oxlade-Chamberlain. These guys bring the pace, skill and technique that we don’t usually associate with the English national team. They haven’t been tainted by England’s ‘perennial failures’ tag, which will ease the burden on them to perform. In Ross Barkley, England have a kind of player they haven’t had since Paul Gascoigne. He gets fans off their seats with his dribbling ability, explosive shooting and his sheer tenacity. He embodies the young players that have been chosen by Roy Hodgson and if used well by the typically cautious manager, then I feel England will shock a few.
This World Cup more than ever gives Nigeria a chance of progressing to the latter stages. Playing a 4-4-1-1 system with Musa and Moses on the flanks, Emenike up top and Mikel Obi marshalling the midfield, Nigeria has a solid base. Argentina will most likely top the group, so it’s going to be a fight between Bosnia and us. Bosnia are a very organised team and possess highly technical players that can hurt Nigeria so I feel we might struggle. However we’ve defied the odds before and can do so again. It is important to note that the climate in Brazil can be to our benefit when going against the Bosnians. I would never write Nigeria off but I expect us to come 3rd in Group F.
Michael Famoroti: England are in a difficult group. Italy and Uruguay (even without Suarez) are two of the most cunning teams around. Hodgson’s tactical naiveté might just be too much of a hindrance for them to escape from the group. Still I expect the pace in the squad to just about make the difference when it counts. I don’t see them getting beyond the second round though.
For Nigeria, the main thing is keeping their discipline and focus. Furthermore, they do not want to go into the final game against Argentina hoping that Iran does them a favor against the Bosnians. In the likes of Pjanic, Dzeko and Salihovic, Bosnia have genuine match-winners. However there is an obvious lack of experience that the Super Eagles can exploit if they execute their game plan well. It is notoriously difficult to predict the performances of the Super Eagles but as long as we keep our discipline (tactically and emotionally) then we have a shot against anyone in the right circumstances. A second round meeting with France should be on the cards.
Demeyin Agbeyegbe: We are all Nigerians and we want to know how we will fare but traditionally because of the Premier League swell most Nigerians also have this tendency to support England. It’s a bit of a tenuous link but somewhere inside us we want them to do well. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s me. I really think Nigeria can get through the group. It’s not a straightforward task but it’s something which is possible.
I feel the English would have a good tournament. They will surprise many and make it out of the group, at the expense of Uruguay. They will go as far as the quarter finals and then lose it on penalties. Isn’t that classic England?