This week saw the release of the latest FIFA World Rankings which put Nigeria as number 44 in the world. This is also the last update this year.
This time last year, Nigeria were seating in 51st place of the official rankings. They were also the ninth best team in Africa.
At the start of the year, the Super Eagles were contesting the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN), a tournament that takes place every other year, organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Only players from the National football leagues were able to play for their countries in this tournament.
The Eagles drew the opening match with Rwanda but won the next four games against Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Sudan on the way to the final. In the final game, they lost to the hosts Morocco, recording their first loss of the year.
In the next few months after the tournament, the Super Eagles were preparing for the World Cup in Russia in several friendlies. They only won one of those matches, the one in March, when they beat Poland 1:0 away.
Their World Cup group was hard as they were drawn against Iceland, Argentina and Croatia. They lost to the Croats in the opening match, but they beat Iceland in the second group match. In the last match of the group’s stage, they met with Argentina who heartbreakingly managed to get a win and throw Nigeria out of the World Cup.
After the World Cup, the Super Eagles, with a senior player Victor Moses announcing retirement from the team and John Obi Mikel not available, turned to qualify for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon. Earlier, they didn’t start qualifying as planned. They lost their opening match to South Africa at home, but that was last year.
Thankfully, their form increased for the next four qualifiers taking them to the top of the group and directly qualifying for Cameroon with a match to spare. During that time, they also won two friendly games.
In total, out of the 21 matches they played in 2018, the Super Eagles won nine games, lost seven and drew five matches. They scored 27 goals and conceded 23.
All in all, they had a successful year, taking part in the World Cup and qualifying for the AFCON 2019 as number one in their group. And accordingly, their ranking in the world has improved to number 44 in the world. But the most impressive fact is that they are now fourth best in Africa, behind Senegal, Tunisia and Morocco. They are on the nice path to be even better next year.