2018 Russia World Cup Team Preview: Nigeria Super Eagles
The Nigeria Super Eagles are the most successful African team in World Cup History. They have appeared 6 times in the last 7 tournaments and reached the last 16 thrice, USA 94, France 98 and Brazil 14.
Nigeria National Team players line up for a photo during the unveiling of the World Cup Kit that has received a lot of publicity around the globe. Photo/Courtesy
Nigeria Super Eagles are the most consistent African team at the biggest soccer tourney in the world. Led by their current coach Gernot Rohr, who is considered among the most experienced coaches Africa has seen, the Super Eagles were the first African country to qualify for the World Cup in Russia this year, 2018. It is believed that the current squad is loaded with youthful potential to go further than any other squad and possibly challenge for the World Cup Title, with their record of 36 unbeaten games in the last 36 qualifiers, better than any African team. Their last defeat can only be traced back to 2004 where Angola defeated them by a solitary goal in Luanda.
With the World Cup only three days away, the World will be looking at which African team will make it beyond the group stages. Many have put their bets on Senegal and Egypt, claiming that the rest of the African teams have slim chances, but it is too early to think this World Cup has minnows. The Nigeria Super Eagles have been placed in a considerably tough group, but 'literally, anything can happen in football' is not an unproven fact. Nigeria is drawn in Group D alongside the 2014 Brazil World Cup silver medallists Argentina, together with Iceland and perennial appearance makers, Croatia.
Gernot Rohr will have an uphill task to get over a perennial problem that has seen Nigeria fail to advance beyond the last 16 in six of the last seven tournaments that they have made an appearance. Of these six they have been eliminated in the last sixteen thrice during the 1994 World Cup in USA, France 1998 and Brazil 2014. One particular challenge they will face is Argentina, whom they have faced four times in their previous outings and have lost all the four times. However, Nigeria's form in the qualifiers has been awesome and convincing, trouncing big African names like Algeria, former African champions Zambia and notably the current African champions Cameroon who endured a painful 4-0 routing. Argentina will also not want to forget these African giants coming down from a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2 in a friendly in Russia last November.
The Super Eagles Players to Watch in Russia 2018
Nigeria has many youthful and talented players who will be looked upon to add zest, energy and speed to the game. They include Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester) and Victor Moses (Chelsea). But of much interest will be the veteran axle to the midfield. John Obi Mikel, 31, will provide crucial stability in the Super Eagles' central midfield. His advancement in age doesn't seem to provide a potential impediment in that role since his performance in China is at the top level for the former Chelsea midfield wall. His ball handling skills are good and he is a necessary bully in the squad. The band on his arm during the tournament will also ensure that the youthful players are provided with the right leadership.
Former England under 21 International has matured after 33 caps for the Super Eagles. Victor Moses has grabbed 11 goals at the helm of the Super Eagles and his recent form at Chelsea makes him a potential hitman for his country in Russia 2018. His hard work, pace and grit will be a positive to the Super Eagles and will be an asset alongside Captain John Obi Mikel in the Midfield. His vision and good communication with the strikers will upset defences in crucial games.
Nigeria Match Schedules and Venues
16 June: Nigeria vs Croatia Kaliningrad
22 June: Nigeria vs Iceland Volgograd
26 June: Nigeria vs Argentina St. Petersburg
Nigeria Super Eagles Squad Russia 2018 World Cup
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 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 Beer Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone).