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FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Nigeria aim to fulfill potential

Nigeria have generally put in decent showings whenever they have been a part of the FIFA World Cup but the Super Eagles will seek to go further than the round of 16 this time around.

football Updated: Jun 11, 2018 14:58 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA World Cup 2018,World Cup Russia,World Cup 2018
Nigeria's midfielder Alex Iwobi runs with the ball during the International friendly football match between England and Nigeria at Wembley stadium in London.(AFP)

Head coach: Gernot Rohr

FIFA World Cup history: Qualified five times; best – Round of 16 (1994, 1998, 2014)

Qualifying route: Round 1 – bye; Round 2 – Defeated Swaziland 2-0 (0-0, 2-0) on aggregate; Round 3 – Group B winners (W4 D1 L1)

Squad: Goalkeepers - Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Francis Uzoho; Defenders - William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo, Bryan Idowu, Chidozie Awaziem, Abdullahi Shehu, Elderson Echiejile, Tyronne Ebuehi; Midfielders - John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi, John Ogu, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Joel Obi; Forwards - Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Simeon Nwankwo.

The Nigeria national football team’s history in the FIFA World Cup is a relatively new one but their showings in the tournament have generally been good.

They did not enter the qualification rounds for the tournament until 1966 and eventually withdrew from the process. From 1970 to 1990 they were a part of the process but failed to secure qualification.

They first made it to the tournament in 1994 and made it to the round of 16 which was a decent showing for them. They repeated this performance in 1998.

The early 2000’s saw their fortunes dwindle. They failed to qualify out of their groups in 2002 and 2010 whereas they missed out on qualifying for the tournament in 2006.

However, they made it to the round of sixteen in the previous edition of the tournament and the squad that will represent the Super Eagles in Russia is a solid one.

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They are the favourites along with Argentina for qualifying out of their group. However, their group is arguably one of the tougher ones in the tournament.

Still, the side boasts a good mix of experience and youth and will be keen to make it beyond the round of 16 this time around.

Three players to watch out for

Victor Moses – He’s played in as many clubs as he has in positions across the attacking third, but he has a plethora of experience to call upon and a keen eye for goal. Moses will be Nigeria’s main man going forward and his direct style of play will likely trouble many a defence.

Kelechi Iheanacho – His time at Manchester City might have ended but this young striker has plenty of potential. He is yet to find his feet at Leicester but the World Cup has always seen many youngsters look to make a mark and Iheanacho could likely be one of them.

Alex Iwobi – This talented young attacker is different from Moses and that is precisely why he could be deadly if played in tandem with the Chelsea star as their contrasting styles could cause opposition defences plenty of headaches. Iwobi’s creativity and ability on the ball make him a dangerous proposition to defend or contain.

First Published: Jun 10, 2018 19:55 IST