Nigeria at the summer’s World Cup 2018
After qualifying for this summer’s World Cup Finals with relative ease, many are predicting that Nigeria could well be one of the surprise packages in Russia. German boss Gernot Rohr led his side to four wins from six qualifying matches, despite having been drawn in a group alongside African powerhouses Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia.
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As a result, the Super Eagles, who made it through to the Round of 16 in Brazil four years ago despite unrest in the camp, are expected to give another strong showing when they travel to Russia in just June. Let’s take a closer look at Nigeria’s history when it comes to their World Cup appearances, providing a clearer indication of their chances this summer.
USA 1994 World Cup
Nigeria’s first ever World Cup appearance came in 1994, with manager Clemens Westerhof leading the Super Eagles to victories over both Bulgaria and Greece, meaning that they topped their group after three matches. Nigeria eventually narrowly lost out to Italy in the Round of 16, despite the Super Eagles having taken the lead through legendary figure, Emmanuel Amunike after just 20 minutes. The Azzurri fought back and scored a crucial goal in extra time, with the Italian’s going on to reach the final that year.
France 1998 World Cup
Nigeria made it consecutive World Cup appearances after qualifying for the 1998 Finals in France, where they were drawn alongside Spain, Bulgaria and Paraguay. The Super Eagles opened up with a famous win over Spain, with Sunday Oliseh scoring the winner in a hugely entertaining 3-2 success. Nigeria backed-up this victory with another three points against Bulgaria, meaning that they qualified for the knockout phase of the competition, despite a defeat to Paraguay in their final group fixture. Nigeria met their match in the Round of 16 however, with Denmark dominating in order to secure a 4-1 victory.
South Korea & Japan 2002 World Cup
Nigeria headed to South Korea and Japan in confident mood thanks to a strong showing in qualifying, with the African giants drawn in a tough group alongside Sweden, Argentina and England. The Super Eagles were unable to reach the knockout phase again, with defeats against both Argentina and Sweden meaning that their draw with England was not enough to see them through.
Germany 2006 World Cup
Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, ending a run of three straight Final appearances.
South Africa 2010 World Cup
Nigeria returned to the Finals in 2010, with the Super Eagles qualifying for the tournament in South Africa following a victory over rivals Kenya. Nigeria were once again drawn alongside Argentina, with a header from Gabriel Heinze enough to provide the South American’s with the three points in their opening match. Nigeria would go on to lose to Greece in their second group match, before battling to a 2-2 draw with south Korea. With Nigeria crashing out of the competition as a result, former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, suspended the national team from international competition for two years.
Brazil 2014 World Cup
Nigeria headed to Brazil in an attempt to make up for their poor showing at the 2010 Finals, however the Super Eagles were left frustrated after an opening draw with minnows Iran. However, manager Stephen Keshi led his side to their first World Cup win since 1998 when they defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina, before the Super Eagles once again faced off against Argentina. Despite Nigeria losing out as a result of a header from Marcos Rojo, they still qualified for the Round of 16. Keshi’s side took the lead against France, before succumbing to two late goals from Paul Pogba and an own goal from Joseph Yobo.