One of the most entertaining nations at the World Cup will be Nigeria Super Eagles , who play with flair, emotion and heart, all which capitvate fans around the world. This edition of the Super Eagles has some veterans to lead this team’s young generation, and there’s quality there from the young guys for the team to make a run to the knockout stage.
The Super Eagles may be Africa’s best team at the 2018 World Cup. Getty Images
World Cup appearances: Six
Best finish: Round of 16 (3X)
Last World Cup: 2014
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United)
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor), Tyronne Ebuehi (Den Haag), Elderson Echiejile (Brugge), Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes), William Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa)
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin TEDA), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone)
How they qualified: Group B winners in African qualifying, five points clear of Zambia and six ahead of Cameroon.
History: Since making their World Cup debut in 1994, Nigeria have only missed the 2006 edition in Germany. Of their five appearances, their best achievement has been reaching the last 16 in 1994, 1998 and 2014.
Fun fact: Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina in five of their last six World Cup outings.
Best World Cup moment: Rashidi Yekini opening Nigeria’s account against Bulgaria in 1994, in what was their first ever World Cup finals game. The forward, who died aged 48 back in 2012, memorably celebrated inside the goal, shaking the net with sheer elation. Nigeria went on to win 3-0.
Player you’ve never heard of: Ikechukwu Ezenwa – The goalkeeper who will likely be tasked with keeping Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain at bay on June 26.
John Obi Mikel. The former Chelsea midfielder is the captain and at 31 years of age, he’s top years are winding down. He’s been playing in China but is still performing at a good level. He’s good on the ball, not afraid to get dirty and will be key to Nigeria quickly going on the attack.Victor Moses is the other player who has established himself at Chelsea and for the Nigerian team playing a crucial role in the qualifers.
Player to watch
Victor Moses. The Chelsea midfielder is fast, works really hard and knows how to make an impact. He can get down the wing, cut inside and plays well with strikers to combine for one-twos. He’s somebody who could really shine this summer and help Nigeria get through.
If this were any other group, I’d like their chances to move on. But having to go up against Argentina, Iceland and Croatia, it’s going to be tough sledding. Playing Argentina last gives them the opportunity to clinch a spot before even playing that game, but you have to feel they’ll need at least a draw against Croatia in the opener to have a chance. This is a borderline round of 16 teams.