Expectations are diminished for Nigeria, but it was not long ago that the Super Eagles were seen as the most likely African nation to reach the last four rounds of a Soccer World Cup.
And though they have just one point from their last five matches in the finals and missed out on Germany 2006 altogether, the continent’s most populous nation looks likely to be a dangerous dark horse with little to lose up against the world’s best.
The road to South Africa
A surprising scoreless draw in their first match in the final round of CAF (Confederation of African Football) qualifying to Mozambique left Nigeria playing catch-up to Tunisia from the start.
Consecutive draws with the Carthage Eagles had the west Africans staring elimination in the face. However, Tunisia lost 1-0 in Mozambique and Nigeria came up from a goal behind twice to win 3-2 in Kenya.
The Super Eagles have the ability to score a lot of goals in South Africa behind a pacy, dynamic attack that features the likes of Obafemi Martins, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, and youngster Victor Obinna as well as Ikechukwu Uche.
Shaibu Amodu, who guided Nigeria through the qualifiers, was demoted after the team finished third at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. He was replaced by former Sweden boss Lars Lagerback at the end of February.
- Nigeria’s 3-0 waltz over Bulgaria in their 1994 USA debut match was more remarkable given that the Europeans went on to beat Greece, Argentina, Mexico and Germany in the tournament.
- Since Clemens Westerhof built the 1994 side and left the Super Eagles, the team has been coached by European journeymen such as Jo Bonfrere, Philippe Troussier, Bora Milutinovic and Berti Vogts.
- Nigeria have a rich history at other worldwide tournaments, having won the 1985, 1993 and 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup as well as the 1996 Olympic Football Tournament. — Fifa