The Nigeria Super Eagles romped through the toughest of Africa’s 2018 World Cup qualifying groups with such ease that it is difficult to offer a convincing argument against their credentials.
However, this current crop of Super Eagles remains a side in need of improvement. It is a young squad, much changed from the team that reached the second round at the last World Cup in Brazil.
Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi are yet to deliver on the impact that has been expected of them, although Iwobi did get the goal that ensured World Cup qualification when they beat Zambia 1-0 and the Arsenal man was in top form in a recent International friendly vs England at Wembley.
KEY PLAYER: Victor Moses
Chelsea’s Victor Moses was excellent in his club’s 2016/17 Premier League triumph, with a newfound role at wing-back injecting life back into his football career.
His performance levels took a sizeable dip last season, along with the rest of his team-mates, but he remains a key attacking force for Nigeria.
RISING STAR: Alex Iwobi‘sprogression has stalled at Arsenal over the last couple of years, but he generally does show up when representing his country. Could this World Cup finally see the 22-year-old fulfil his huge potential?
His legendary uncle, Jay-Jay Okocha, helped Nigeria to the last 16 of the 1994 World Cup before a dramatic exit to eventual runners-up Italy, which required extra-time. Iwobi will be hoping to go one better.
COACH: Gernot Rohr
Appointed in August 2016 on a two-year contract, the former Bayern Munich player spent 12 years at Bordeaux, going on to coach the club and take them to the 1996 UEFA Cup Final, where they lost to Bayern. Began his African coaching career at Etoile Sahel and led the national teams of Gabon, Niger, and Burkina Faso before his surprise appointment by Nigeria.
Saturday, June 16th: CROATIA v Nigeria (Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad) – kick-off – 20:00
Friday, June 22nd: Nigeria v ICELAND (Volgograd Arena, Volgograd) – kick-off – 16:00
Tuesday, June 26th: Nigeria v ARGENTINA (St Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg) – kick-off – 19:00
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United).
Defenders: William Troost-Ekong and Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor), Tyronne Ebuehi (Ado Den Haag), Elderson Echiejile (Cercle Brugge KSV), Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes FC), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa).
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Tianjin Teda), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino, Italy).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone).