World Cup Russia 2018: Nigeria’s chances for the tournament
- Rohr has a lot of options when choosing the final Nigerian World Cup 2018 Squad
- They had an unbeaten run at the qualifiers
- They had qualified for the World Cup even with one match to go
With the World cup tournament just a few days away, there is an air of excitement registered all over the world, even in nations whose teams didn’t qualify for the final showdown in Russia. This is not far-fetched as the tournament promises huge treats of drama, entertainment, excitement, flood of goals and ‘most importantly’ the chances for revenge for humiliations from previous encounters. Nigeria promises to be one of the most entertaining nations in this year’s competition.
The Nigerian football team is reputable for the flair, spirit, and emotions they exhibit on the pitch which have endeared them to fans all over the world. The first African country to reach Russia, Nigeria has only missed out of one World Cup Tournament- Germany 2006- since they made their first appearance in 1994. However, luck isn’t always on their side with their best-ever finish being the Round of 16 always followed by bouts of failures and disappointments for the giant of Africa. This Edition of the World competition sees the Super Eagles parading an array of talented and dynamic young players led by veterans in the team as they try to secure a spot in the Round of 16. They offer a lot to look forward to.
The Nigerian Squad and Formation
The Nigerian team features 30 players but which will be trimmed down to the specified 23 players- including 3 goalkeepers- and will be announced by FIFA on June 4. The squad is to be led by the Tianjin TEDA midfielder Mikel Obi whose wealth of experience is expected to help steer the team to victories. The Coach, Rohr has also named the likes of Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses, Ogenyi Onazi, and Kelechi Iheanacho as members of the team.
Rohr has hinted that he’d use the 3-5-2 formation much to the chagrin of many including Austin Eguavoen who have opined that the formation is riddled with loopholes and think Nigeria stands a better chance with traditional formations. This is a clear departure from the usual 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and 4-5-1 the team is used to. This was informed by a win against the Argentine team in a friendly encounter which saw Nigeria beating the Albiceleste with the 3-5-2 formation.
The Coach Effect
Rohr is a reputable coach who has, since he took over the Technical Unit of the Super Eagles in 2016, shown he knows his stuff. With experience working in various African countries as Coach, he’s one of the most sought after coach on the continent. No sooner was Rohr brought on board than he launched a campaign to consolidate the defence. This was based on the theory of causality in football- If you don’t concede, you don’t lose games. His efforts were rewarded with victories in the qualifiers which revived the hopes of Nigeria clinching the world title in this year’s tourney in Russia.
The Hitch-Free Qualifications Ride
The Nigerian team was in an abyss of despair prior to the qualifiers which saw the team glide steadily to the top once more. The team had failed to qualify for the CAF African Cup of Nations two consecutive times- 2015 and 2017. Morale was low and was worsened by the grouping which saw Nigeria and the current African Champions in the same group in the final qualifying round. But, according to Onazi, the players were far from being perturbed and they saw this as an opportunity to show that they were a team and could really go far. Evidently, they put the opportunity to good use.
Murmurs from fan echoed all over the country when they saw Nigeria paired with Iceland, Argentina and Croatia in group D in knock out stages. Nigeria is slated to meet with Croatia first in a series of matches to determine which team moves on to the Round of 16.
Nigeria’s chances for the World Cup
While Croatia and Iceland will test the will of the Nigerian team at the initial stage, the real test will come from the South American Side, Argentina. Still nursing the wounds from the defeat meted out by Argentina four years ago, the team is intent on not yielding to La Albiceleste again. This will be Nigeria’s fifth encounter with Argentina in the World Cup each with its sad tales of defeat. And even though group D presents a stiff opposition for the Nigeria, players are optimistic that World Cup 2018 would be different from others. They are seeking to go beyond their best run and according to Musa, there is the need to set high hopes for the competition as they are looking to go beyond the quarter finals.
Meanwhile, fans are counting on the absence of certain players in various teams taking part in the competition to give Nigeria the chances to progress in the competition. However, a quick look at the German, Spanish, France and Brazil teams presents fresh trouble for the Super Eagles if they ever get to meet. Besides, a new study says that Nigeria does not stand a chance at the tournament. Despite this, morale is still pretty much high and various stakeholders and fans alike have openly declared their optimism.
What do you think? Does Nigeria stand a chance of even going beyond the Round of 16?