Abuja: Nigeria insist they have drawn a fair first round group for the World Cup, but Ghana admitted they face a battle against Germany, Portugal and United States.
The Ivory Coast enjoyed better luck in Friday’s draw, with Africa’s other flag bearers, Algeria and Cameroon, likely to struggle in their respective groups.
African champions Nigeria said they are hopeful of reaching the knockout stage in Brazil after they were drawn against Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran. It will be the fourth time Nigeria will face Argentina in the first round of the World Cup, while they will take on Bosnia and Iran for the first time at this level.
Nigeria defender Elderson Echeijile said he believes a good start in their opening group game against Iran will set the tone.
“It’s not a bad draw,” said the Sporting Braga defender. “We will hope for a good start in our opening game against Iran.
“Obviously, Argentina will be the team to beat in this group, they are a good team. We clashed with them in our opening game at the 2010 tournament, but we will now face them in our last game when we would have gained enough confidence.
“Bosnia, who are making their World Cup debut at this World Cup, and Iran are unknown, but they cannot be discounted as they hold that element of surprise.”
Nigeria assistant coach Daniel Amokachi said: “It’s a good draw for us. Argentina are the world powers here, but you cannot afford to underrate Iran or Bosnia. We will respect all the teams and take it game after game.
“If we could win our first game and have three points in the bag, we will be comfortable going into our second game against Bosnia.”
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah said that coming up against Germany, Portugal and the United States will be a tough assignment.
Germany, the US and Ghana were in the same group at the last World Cup and Ghana and the US also clashed at the 2006 tournament with the Black Stars winning 2-1.
“All the teams in our group are good, it’s the group of death,” said Appiah. “Our opening game is against the United States of America, who have improved greatly, but I have total confidence in my team. I believe we will prepare very well and go past the group phase.”
The Ivorians, who have failed to go past the first round in their two World Cup appearances, will hope to improve on this record after they were pitched against Colombia, Greece and Japan.
For their first two World Cups, in 2006 and 2010, the Elephants were grouped with the likes of the Netherlands and Brazil.
Cameroon and Algeria will be the outsiders in their groups, with the Indomitable Lions playing alongside hosts Brazil, Croatia and Mexico, while Algeria are pooled with Belgium, Russia and South Korea.
But former South Africa coach Stuart Baxter said Cameroon could defy the odds and reach the knockout rounds. “If Cameroon can get their act together they should qualify for the next round along with host nation Brazil as both Mexico and Croatia have struggled lately,” said Baxter.