Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Nigeria World Cup Preview | Group D

Nigeria have only missed one international tournament since their first qualification in 1994. The three-time AFCON winners often prove to be an entertaining side to watch, being one of the most decorated African footballing nations. Nigeria were the first African nation to qualify for Russia after placing first in their CAF qualification group.

Nigeria Squad Outlook

Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Francis Uzoho, Dele Ajiboye; William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Olaoluwa Aina, Kenneth Omeruo, Bryan Idowu, Chidozie Awaziem, Abdullahi Shehu, Elderson Echiejile, Tyronne Ebuehi, Stephen Eze, John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi, John Ogu, Wilfred Ndidi, Uche Agbo, Oghenekaro Etebo, Joel Obi; Mikel Agu; Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Junior Lokosa, Simeon Nwankwo.

Nigerian Squad Talk

This Nigeria squad is certainly an interesting one. A strikeforce consisting of Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa may prove to be dangerous. Iheanacho takes the role of the target man, with the pacey Musa injecting speed into the partnership. Furthermore, this Nigeria squad boasts a strong midfield. The veteran John Obi Mikel makes a strong captaincy candidate due to his vast experience. Ogenyi Onazi further strengthens this unit. Wilfred Ndidi is known for his versatility and can make an impact along the back line and in midfield. The star player of this squad is undoubtedly FA Cup winner Victor Moses, who has showed his value since converting to full-back at Chelsea.

The Super Eagles, however, fall into the trap of looking deceivingly good on paper. Iheanacho flashed at Manchester City, yet has only scored three goals since joining Leicester in 2017. Furthermore, Musa may be known for his electric pace, however failed to appear consistently for the Foxes. This squad may also fall victim to a lack of squad depth. Some positions in the defence lack depth, in particular.

King of the Country

Jay-Jay Okocha was internationally renowned for his skill in ball control and stunning show of skills. In his move to PSG in 1998, Okocha became the most expensive African footballer at the time and acted as a mentor to a young Ronaldinho. The bulk of Okocha’s career was spent at English club Bolton Wanderers, making over 120 appearances. Internationally, Okocha won Olympic gold in 1996, however failed to find further success. Despite this, Okocha is known worldwide to have been an incredibly talented and entertaining footballer.

Who’s the Gaffa?

Gernot Rohr is the technical advisor to Nigeria, who are currently under the control of the Nigerian Football Federation. The man enjoyed an extended stint in the set-up of Bordeaux, spending the majority of his successive career in the French leagues. He was appointed to his role at Nigeria in 2016 after being sacked by Burkina Faso, subsequently leading this side to qualification for the World Cup.

Editors Opinion

Unfortunately, Nigeria find themselves in a terribly difficult group. They may be able to pick up a few points, however I fail to see anything higher than a fourth place finish.

Lazy Fan Fact: 

Nigeria boast the record for the highest ever placed African side in the FIFA World Rankings, reaching 5th in April 1994.

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