Nigeria 2018 World Cup Squad
After reaching the Round of 16 in Brazil four years ago, Nigeria will be hoping to match this achievement when they head to Russia this summer, with Gernot Rohr having restored confidence in the nation’s football team. Nigeria were in disarray having seen five coaches try and fail in the period of just two years following the 2014 Finals, however a recent win over Argentina demonstrates that potential within their squad. Nigeria qualified for the Finals with a win over Zambia back in October, with the Super Eagles eventually finishing five points clear at the top of Group B, ahead of Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria.
While their squad is made up of talent from around Europe, including players from top English Premier League clubs, the challenge for manager Rohr is to ensure that they fire on all cylinders come the time they take to the field for their first match of the World Cup against Croatia on the 16th June. The players are already better prepared for the finals than they were in 2014, when a payment dispute almost led to the Nigerian team going on strike ahead of their Round of 16 fixture with France. Let’s take a closer look at the likely Nigeria squad in full, covering all positions on the pitch.
64-year-old Gernot Rohr has experience of managing European clubs such as Bordeaux and Nantes in the past, while the German has more recently taken charge of Burkino Faso and Gabon. Having taken some time to find his preferred starting eleven and formation, Nigeria are now a team who are a match for anyone on their day, as their recent success over Argentina proves. As well as this, Nigeria have lost just two matches following the appointment of Rohr back in August 2016.
With Wolverhampton Wanderers keeper Carl Ikeme having taken a break from the game following his diagnosis of leukaemia, the emphasis likely to fall upon Ikechukwu Ezenwa, with the Enyimba stopper likely to be one of the few domestic-based players in their squad. However, youngster Francis Uzoho could be a surprise inclusion, with the 19-year-old having already made his debut for La Liga side Deportivo La Coruna.
Despite not having many star names in their back-line, the likes of William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun provide good experience in the central defensive positions, while Elderson Echiejile and Shehu Abdullahi are expected to complete the foursome. Chelsea youngster Ola Aina could push for a starting birth, with the 21-year-old having impressed on loan at English Championship side Hull City this season.
Nigeria have huge experience in midfield, with Captain Jon-Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi providing both skill and athleticism in the centre of the field. Elsewhere, Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi and Moses Simon could well complete the midfield for the Super Eagles, depending on their formation.
Chelsea man Victor Moses is played in a more attacking role at international level, while Alex Iwobi is a certain starter, despite his limited playing time with Arsenal. Elsewhere, Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho offer Rohr excellent options in attack.
Group D Fixtures
Nigeria get their campaign underway with an encounter against Croatia at Kaliningrad Stadium, before taking on Euro 2016 surprise package Iceland. The Super Eagles will then go head-to-head with Argentina in Saint Petersburg.