At the 1994 World Cup, Nigeria’s football team put in an inspiring performance but was ousted in the round of 16. In 2014, some 20 years later, Nigeria reached the same heights and failed to secure a place in the quarterfinals following a 2-0 defeat to France. This year they want to surpass that.
This edition of the World Cup will be Nigeria’s sixth time at football’s greatest showcase. To achieve its goals in Russia, the team has relied on young players who will be playing at the World Cup for the first time.
The country will face Croatia, Iceland, and Argentina in Group D. Nigeria has never played Croatia and Iceland at the FIFA World Cup. Argentina and Nigeria met three times in the FIFA World Cup group stage and the South Americans have won out every time. This time, the Nigerian team has vowed to break the jinx against Argentina. The Super Eagles are well known for their highly entertaining brand of football.
Coach Gernot Rohr has identified the fullbacks as the main challenge for the Super Eagles, saying there’s still time to sort out the problem.
Last Monday, the team’s shaky defense failed against DR Congo in an international friendly played on home soil. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.
In matches played as part of the build-up to the World Cup, Nigeria experimented with the 4-3-3 and 5-3-2 formations. The team is working on team harmony and upping its ability in offensive situations.
John Obi Mikel, who plays as a midfielder for Chinese club Tianjin Teda in the Chinese Super League, will captain the Super Eagles.
There are several stars in the team. Odion Jude Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow) and Chelsea forward Victor Moses are among the top players for the Super Eagles.
Musa is noted as the first Nigerian player that has scored more than once in a World Cup match. He scored two goals against Argentina during the last group match at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Nigeria is 47th in FIFA’s global rankings. The Super Eagles take on England at Wembley Stadium on June 2. From London, the delegation will fly into Bad Tatzmannsdorf, a city in Austria where they will spend eight days at the world-renowned Avita Resort before flying to Russia.