FIFA World Cup Special : Team talk – Nigeria can boast of game-changing Premier League superstars

Nigeria are drawn in a difficult group, but they can still make it to next round.

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We conclude our “Team Talks” for Group D of the FIFA World Cup 2018, with African Powerhouse Nigeria.

Team : NIGERIA

Coach: Gernot Rohr
Captain: John Obi Mikel
Nickname(s): Super Eagles
Last Qualified in: 2014
Result in 2014: Round of 16 (16th overall)
Qualified as: CAF 3rd Round Group B Winners (07 October 2017)
Previous World Cup Appearances: (5 Times) 1994 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014.
Best World Cup Finals Result: Round of 16 in 1994, 1998, 2014.

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Final Squad:

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

Key Players:

1) John Obi Mikel: 

The Nigerian captain made 249 appearances for Chelsea between 2006 and 2017. The 31-year old will be playing in his 2nd World Cup, and will be desperate to make a mark for his national side in Russia.

2) Victor Moses: 

From the former to the current; the Chelsea winger has been a player transformed under Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge. The 27-year old’s run down the wings will be vital for the Super Eagles.

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3) Wilfred Ndidi:

The Leicester City midfielder is one of the most talented Nigerian youngsters of recent times. The versatile 21-year old made 38 appearances for his club this season, and will play an important part in his nation’s World Cup 2018 performance.

4) Ahmed Musa: 

The CSKA Moscow forward, on loan from Leicester City, is Nigeria’s joint 10th highest goalscorer of all time and the highest amongst the current squad. Nigeria will be looking for goals from their top scorer in the 2014 World Cup.

5) Kelechi Iheanacho:

The former Manchester City forward won the golden ball and the silver boot in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013. In his first major tournament for the senior team, the 21-year old will be raring to prove his worth.

6) Alex Iwobi:

The Arsenal forward has been a very improved player under Arsene Wenger’s guidance ever since he was promoted to the first team squad. Football runs in the blood of the 22-year old, as he is the nephew of the arguably greatest ever Nigerian footballer Jay Jay Okocha. Iwobi will look to keep his scoring boots on in Russia.

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Recent Form:

After a near flawless qualifying campaign, Nigeria have had the blues in 2018. They have won 5 times in their last 12 encounters, while losing 5 and drawing 2. What is even more alarming is that they have lost 5 of their last 7 encounters, with a solitary victory over Poland in March and a draw with Democratic Republic of Congo.

Group matches:

Nigeria have been drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Argentina. They will play Croatia in their opening match on 16th of June, followed by Iceland and Argentina on 22nd and 26th June respectively.

Prediction:

Drawn in the group of death, Nigeria will have a herculean task ahead. But with a squad boasting of many talents, they will expect to at least reach the knockout stages.

Trivia:

Nigeria have qualified for the World Cups 6-times including 2018. Incredibly in 5 of the 6 occasions, the West Africans have been drawn in the same group as Argentina! The only time they were not was back in 1998, when they finished top of their group. consisting of Bulgaria, Paraguay and Spain.

 

How far do you think Nigeria will progress this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo by takandapiss

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