Manager: Lars Lagerback
Captain: Joseph Yobo
FIFA World Ranking: 20
World Cup Appearances: 3
Best World Cup: Round of 16; 1994 & 1998
Nigeria Team Profile
Nicknamed the Super Eagles, Nigeria will arrive in South Africa as the second best rated African team if the FIFA Rankings are anything to go by, one ranking position off Cameroon in 19. The Nigerians will be feeling pretty good about their chances as well, as after scraping through qualifying by the skin of their teeth, they will feel the footballing Gods are looking down upon them. Tunisia’s 1-0 defeat in the final qualifier paved the way for Nigeria to book their place in the finals, and with their previous best being just a Round of 16 appearance, so long as Nigeria bypass Group B, the locals back home will be satisfied with their efforts.
With the fact Nigeria tend to disappoint whenever the make the finals of a World Cup, you can’t really go too far wrong in terms of pleasing the adoring fans back home in Nigeria. So long as Nigeria don’t finish bottom of their group, they shouldn’t go home too disgraced, although in a competitive group, their remains a good opportunity for Nigeria to bypass the group stage of the competition for just the third time. They key games will be between the Super Eagles and South Korea, and then with Greece. Win both of those and fans back home will enter into party mode.
Nickname: Super Eagles
Nigeria Key Players
Tonnes of physical strength and an abundance of pace in the wide areas are what Nigeria are all about. Their defence is built like fort Knox in terms of stature; Joseph Yobo, Taiwo and Danny Shittu can do more than hold their own at the back for the Nigerians, while the pace of Odemwingie from the wide area will be complimented by a player with even more blistering pace, Obafemi Martins. Any long balls over the top and Martins is likely to catch onto them way before any defender can, but Nigeria aren’t really about ‘long balls. They will attack down the wings, using the pace of Martin and Odemwingie to supply the crosses for the strong and robust centre-forwards, which will either by Everton’s Yakubu or Anichebe, or Portsmouth’s veteran goal-getter, Kanu.
An abundance of pace and strength are what Nigeria have to offer but what they boast in physical stature they lack in technical ability and tactical know-how. They will show plenty of endeavour and enthusiasm on the pitch but that won’t equate into a successful run I’m afraid. However, they can counter-attack at a rate of knots and will pose a threat on the break. This is especially so as the vast majority of their big talent is up front, with Martins, Obinna, Obasi & Yakubu all capable of chipping in with a few goals, it’s just about the service and the regularity of it.
A huge negative for us was the appointment of Lars Lagerback at such late notice. Granted he’s an experienced coach, manager of the Swedish national side for no less than eight years, but the Swede has only been in charge of the Nigeria national team for a couple of months, three in fact, and will have less time than many of the other 31 managers to stamp his mark and feel on the Nigerian team, to ensure the tactics, formations and individual needs are sorted and up to scratch.
Another worry is Nigeria’s tendency to disappoint in World Cup’s, and while they do have every chance of staying competitive in Group B, an early slip up and it could be curtains for the Nigerians, who finished bottom of their group in their previous World Cup appearance back in Korea/Japan in 2002.
Nigeria Qualification for the World Cup
Nigeria scraped through African qualifying by the skin of their teeth, securing their spot in the finals by a narrow one point margin. However, it’s worth pointing out that they didn’t lose a single game during qualifying, avoiding defeat in all six of their qualifiers. They also owe a great deal to Mozambique of whom did the dirty work for Nigeria by beating Tunisia in the final set of qualifiers. The 1-0 defeat of Tunisia paved the way for Nigeria to finish qualifying top of the group after a thrilling 3-2 victory in Kenya. Like we said, Nigeria scraped through to South Africa and owe a lot of it to luck and good fortune.
World Cup Potential: 2/5
We think it’s safe to say that Nigeria won’t be winning the summers showcase event but they could be a decent punt to progress from their group at the expense of South Korea & Greece. Like most African nations the Nigeria has a strong side in physical stature, but they are also a agile bunch who can get around the field at some pace. However, their lack of world class quality is a huge negative and they’ll do well to qualify for Round 2, which would be seen as a worthy achievement back home.
Nigeria World Cup Betting Odds
Nigeria to beat Argentina in their first match at the World Cup: 5.35 NaijaBet
Preliminary Nigeria World Cup Squad
Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv)
Dele Aiyenugba (Bnei Yehuda/Israel)
Austin Ejide (Hapoel Petah Tikva/Israel)
Bassey Akpan (Bayelsa United)
Taye Taiwo (Olympique Marseille)
Elderson Echiejile (Stade Rennes)
Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow)
Onyekachi Apam (OGC Nice)
Joseph Yobo (Everton)
Daniel Shittu (Bolton Wanderers)
Ayodele Adeleye (Sparta Rotterdam)
Rabiu Afolabi (Red Bull Salzburg)
Terna Suswan (Lobi Stars)
Kalu Uche (UD Almeria)
Dickson Etuhu (Fulham)
John Obi Mikel (Chelsea)
Sani Kaita (Alanija)
Haruna Lukman (AS Monaco)
Yusuf Ayila (Dynamo Kiev)
Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Everton)
Victor Anichebe (Everton)
Chinedu Obasi (1899 Hoffenheim)
Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth)
John Utaka (Portsmouth)
Obafemi Martins (VfL Wolfsburg)
Brown Ideye (Sochaux)
Peter Utaka (Odense BK)
Ikechukwu Uche (Real Zaragoza)
Obinna Nsofor (FMalaga)
Osaze Odemwingie (Lokomotive Moscow)
last update: 14 May 2010
World Cup Group B – Table
|Rank||Team||Matches / Points|
|Argentina||0 Matches / 0 Points|
|Nigeria||0 Matches / 0 Points|
|South Korea||0 Matches / 0 Points|
|Greece||0 Matches / 0 Points|