By Emmanuel Afonne
ABUJA – Sixteen matches are expected to be played as hostilities begin in the second group matches at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Sixteen matches were also played in the first group matches as few countries became outstanding with their artistry displays and defeat of football heavyweights.
There have been goals harvest in the competition with no fewer than 56 scored so far and a flurry of cards.
Netherlands, Costa Rica, Germany and the U.S. became the most outstanding teams as the first group matches were concluded on Tuesday with the game in Cuiaba, between Russia and South Korea.
The encounter ended 1-1 indicating that teams needed to re-strategise to keep hope alive for the second round.
Africa will seek to cement a place in the second round of the competition when Cote d’ Ivoire face Colombia in Brasilia on Thursday in their second Group C tie.
A win for the African team will catapult them into the round of 16 having picked the maximum three points against Japan in their first match.
The other Group C tie will see first match losers Japan and Greece battle for supremacy in Natal, while Group D first match losers, Uruguay and England will lock horns in Sao Paulo.
Giant killers Costa Rica will seek to replicate the win over Uruguay in their Group D first clash when they meet Italy on Friday in their second Group match in Recife.
Also on Friday, Group E first match winners, Switzerland and France will test each other for size in Salvador, while losers Honduras and Ecuador will seek redemption in Curitiba.
It will be the survival of the fittest in Group F when Argentina trade tackles with Iran in Belo Horizonte, while Nigeria confront Bosnia-Herzegovina in Cuiaba.
A win for the Argentine team will put the country in vantage position of moving into the second round having won 2-1 in the first group game against Bosnia.
Nigeria’s Eagles have a better advantage of progressing to the second round but that will be based on the outcome of the team’s match with Bosnia on June 21.
Nigeria and Iran are jointly on the second place after both sides shared one point apiece in their first group match which ended goalless.
Ghana will want to avoid another defeat when they face Germany in Group G second tie, in Forteleza. The youthful Ghanaian side had lost 2-1 to U.S. in the first match.
The second group matches continue in Rio de Janeiro as Belgium seek to extend their winning streak in the group when they file out against Russia on Sunday.
Belgium go into the game with three points advantage, having defeated Algeria 2-1 in the first match, while Russia ended proceedings 1-1 against South Korea in the first match.
Algeria and South Korea on the other hand will slug it out in Porto Alegre as the battle for second round gathers momentum.
Another loss for Algeria will automatically knock them out of the competition, while South Korea will need to improve on their initial performance which necessitated the draw in their first encounter.
U.S. will also square up against Portugal in Manaus in Group G on Sunday.
Brazil’s second group game ended 0-0 against Mexico on Tuesday. (NAN)