World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Goal-shy Nigeria to struggle
Past tournaments: 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010
Previous Best: Round of 16 – USA 94 and France 98
How they got here: The Super Eagles come into the tournament off the back of an unbeaten qualifying campaign but this looks less impressive when you consider their group mates were Malawi, Kenya and Namibia.
They may have avoided defeat in all of their matches but in truth they were held three times and rarely impressed when winning, scoring just seven goals in three games against limited opposition.
Their win in the 2013 African Cup of Nations will be a cause for optimism for Nigeria fans though.
Star man: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea)
As a defensive midfielder Mikel is not one for grabbing the headlines with marauding displays and wonder strikes but protection of the back four has been a key to both Nigeria and Chelsea’s success in recent years.
The Super Eagles conceded just four goals in qualifying – including their two-legged play-off with Ethiopia – and this is a testament to Mikel’s battling displays.
A winner of the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, League Cup and four FA Cups at the age of 27 he will be a leader on the field in Brazil.
Under the radar: Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce)
He may be 27-years-old but having played in Africa, Turkey and Russia Eminike is not a household name – but that could all change at the World Cup.
The Super Eagles are not a free scoring side but Emenike top scored in qualifying and his domestic record has set the Premier League rumour mill off and makes him his side’s biggest threat in Brazil.
A total of 30 goals in 50 games for Karabukspor in Turkey saw him move to Spartak Moscow where he smashed 21 in 42 outings. Now plying his trade with Fenerbahce he has hit 12 strikes in his first 28 games and with 10 international goals from just 21 caps he could terrorise Bosnia and Iran (but maybe not Argentina)
Check out this hat trick from Nigeria’s biggest goal threat:
Team nutcase: Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva.)
Nigeria’s World Cup preparation has been marred by match fixing allegations and Austin Ejide did little to convince otherwise with what would have been the most bizarre own goal ever against Scotland.
The Israel-based keeper wasn’t used in qualifying and is unlikely to feature in Brazil after this incident. It was either a blatant attempt to rig a game or the worst attempt at a catch ever – either way Vincent Enyeama’s position should be safe.
Remind yourself of Ejide’s shocker and make up your own mind:
How will they get on?
While the African Cup of Nations win will build confidence the Confederations Cup is perhaps a better reflection of where Nigeria are. Defeats to Spain and Uruguay and conceding to lowly Tahiti did not impress.
Three points are up for grabs against Iran but Bosnia and Argentina should prove a cut above meaning a repeat of their 2006 group exit is on the cards again.
To win the World Cup: 200/1
Best World Cup Bet: Eminke top Nigeria goalscorer – 7/2
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