World Cup 2018 Preview: Nigeria

Nigeria are easily the most accomplished African team to reach Russia 2018. With the highest population in their respective continent, they also have some of the highest expectations.

Nickname(s): Super Eagles

Best Finish: Last-16 (1994, 1998, 2014)

How they qualified: Nigeria became the first African side to reach Russia 2018 thanks to their 1-0 victory over Zambia in their penultimate Group B game. Fittingly it was Alex Iwobi, nephew of three-time World Cup veteran Jay-Jay Okocha, who scored the goal that sent the Nigerians to their sixth global finals.

Coach: Gernot Rohr

The German coach took charge of the Super Eagles in August 2016 and is one of the most experienced coaches in Africa. Since 2010, he has had coaching stints with Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso. When he was named manager of the Super Eagles, he found the team going through a difficult period having missed their chance to participate in the AfCON as a result of Sunday Oliseh’s tumultuous regime. Appointed as the eighth coach in two years, Rohr undoubtedly steadied the ship and signed a contract extension after qualifying for Russia.

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Key Man: John Obi Mikel

Antonio Conte forced the Nigeria skipper out of Chelsea in 2017 when the midfielder opted to represent the Super Eagles at the Rio Olympics instead of reporting for pre-season training. The Italian boss was allegedly so angry that he refused to allow Mikel to play with the U23s. During his time at Stamford Bridge, the Nigerian amassed an incredible 2 league titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 1 Champions League, and 1 Europa League, making him one of the most decorated Nigerian players ever. The 30-year-old is currently playing in China with Tianjin Teda.

Opening fixtures:

16 June vs Croatia

22 June vs Iceland

26 June vs Argentina

Squad: TBD

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