2013 was a very successful year for the Super Eagles. Not only did they win their third African Cup of Nations a year ago but their U17 team also won the World Cup in November 2013. They were also the sole African representatives at the 2013 Confederations Cup and while all they could manage was a group stage exit, in a group with Uruguay and Spain, they headed home with their heads held high.
And with the World Cup looming in Brazil this year, fans can be hopeful of a good display from Stephen Keshi’s men. Paired with Argentina, Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria – who have qualified for 4 out of the last 5 World Cups – have more than a good chance of reaching the reaching the round of 16.
It was of course, in the 2010 World Cup where Argentina were in Nigeria’s group – a game which saw Diego Maradona’s men only win 1-0 after 19 shots, thanks to a monstrous display from goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama. The Super Eagles would have been disappointed not to have made it past that group afterwards as they dominated Greece in the next game until a silly red card for midfielder, Sani Kaita, led to the Greeks’ revival and eventual win. The final game saw a 2-2 draw with South Korea where one more goal would have taken them through.
The odds are in their favour this year though – they can be considered favourites against Iran and Bosnia, both of which are games which precede their final game against favourites, Argentina. With more tournament experience and overall quality, the Super Eagles should be aiming for 6 points in their group – enough to take them to the last 16.
While Bosnia were impressive in qualifying and are betting favourites against Nigeria with the likes of Edin Dzeko, Senad Lulić, and Asmir Begovic, they lack the tournament experience of the African nation who also boast their fair share of stars in John Obi Mikel, Vincent Enyeama, Victor Moses, Emmanuel Emenike and more.
So can Nigeria win the World Cup? In a nutshell, do not expect anything better than a round of 16 exit – the best finish in Nigeria’s World Cup history – as with a 2nd place finish in the group, the chances are they’ll face one of the tournament favourites in the next game.
While it’s still possible that this year might be another group stage exist depending on their result against Bosnia, it also wouldn’t be a surprise if the Super Eagles made it past group F.