Article By – Babajide Ayeni
The wait for the 2018 World Cup is almost over with the world eagerly anticipating the 21st edition of the most watched football championships,Host nation, Russia is ready to bring together nations from all over the globe as the World Cup kicks off in a few hours.
It goes without saying that the rush of excitement the World Cup brings can rarely be matched by any other sport, as it’s the stage where heroes are born.
The focus will be on five time champions, Brazil, as they are one of the hot favorites tipped to win the tournament while Germany(current champions) are also on the lips of few fans however, at every major tournament, there’s always a room for a dark horse to upset the established order of things.
SUPER EAGLES OF NIGERIA ANYONE ?
The Nigerian National team jersey has been widely accepted by the world as one of the best paraded at the mundial but, The question on everyone’s lips are; Are the Super Eagles good enough to write their names in the annals of World Cup history books?
Road to Russia
The Super Eagles of Nigeria as they are fondly called were the first African nation to book a ticket to the World Cup with a game to spare as they saw off competition from rivals,Cameroon, Zambia and star studded Algeria. Did I also mention they ended the qualifier campaign without losing a single game ? Moving on…….
Super Eagles are no stranger to the World Cup as it will be the sixth time Nigeria will feature at the global football showpiece having made their debut in the 1994 World Cup where they got as far as the second round.A feat that has only been achieved twice,Not too impressive I have to add. The Super Eagles have occasionally failed to meet up with the expectations of teeming fans, regularly churning out performances not befitting of a regular World Cup participant. Nevertheless, Nigeria often enter international competitions as one of Africa’s biggest hopes and once again , This year will be no different as they head into the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia as one of the sides from the continent expected to have a decent run in the tournament despite being the lowest ranked (48th) African team going to Russia.
Nigeria have been drawn in group D alongside familiar foe, Argentina who they have met in all but one of their previous World Cup campaigns, Croatia and debutants Iceland.
49 IS THE CHARM
The Super Eagles will be lead by German tactician, Gernot Rohr, Nigeria’s 49th coach in charge of the national. the 64 year old gaffer has been credited for injecting direction and confidence in the team following the post 2014 turmoil that saw the Super Eagles take on five coaches in two years. Rohr who has a very rich experience in coaching African sides has clearly paid his dues and will be the man entrusted to take the men in green to at least past the round of 16, a stage which has eluded the West African giants. Will he be able to achieve this feat? Only time will tell.
At his disposal, He will have the premier league quartet of Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi , Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi. While defensive partnership the ‘Oyinbo Wall’ Troost Ekong and Leon Balogun are also present in his final 23 man list.
The Super Eagles are rated as one of the youngest in the tournament however, following the team’s performance in recent friendly games against Congo Dr, England and Czech Republic, it leaves questions about Nigeria’s hope of actually leaving a good mark at the World Stage. With loss after loss it’s fast becoming the unlikely friendly win over Argentina might serve as a smokescreen to hide the poor standard of the three time African cup of nation champions.
With the absence of number 1 goalie, Carl Ikeme and self willed decision of veteran goalkeeper Victor Enyeama, Gernot Rohr and over 190million Nigerians has rested its hopes on the gloves of little known 19 year old , Francis Uzoho. The teenager remained the best and trusted choice throughout the friendlies and you can be rest assured he will be in goal when Nigeria lock horns against Croatia come June 16.
SET PIECE ISSUES
Super Eagles inability to deal with set piece has been a problem that doesn’t want to go away. This troubling ailment has caused Nigeria major issues in the recent friendly games most notably against England and Czech Republic.
Failure to sort out this problem might cause a huge dent at Nigeria’s bid to get as far as the Quarter finals. Fix up
Nigeria’s habitual liking for slow starts is a poisonous disease that needs to be sucked out before the nation host Croatia.
The Super Eagles poor start to games have been taken completely advantage of by Argentina , England and Czech Republic. Rohr needs to find a way to get the boys firing for 90 minutes in other to stand a chance of getting to the second round.
MISFIRING TARGET MAN
Changchun Yatai forward , Odion Ighalo has been able to score only 4 goals in 19 appearance for Super Eagles. This statistic doesn’t put a lot of confidence in the heart of many Nigerians.
In recent friendly games, It was evident that Nigeria finds it very difficult to fashion out a good goal scoring opportunity, a problem not completely down to Ighalo if I’m to be fair. Despite some of the decent options they have in attack, Getting the boys to rain in goals has almost become a fruitless exercise.
The Nigerian Football Federation has done all it could to encourage and motivate the Eagles to give their best. Now it’s over to Rohr and his 23 stars to give a good a showing at the World Cup.
Getting out of the group will be an obvious target for Nigeria and I feel goal difference could be a key factor. Therefore, beating Croatia and Iceland would be helpful to the cause also increase the confidence of the team before facing Messi influenced Argentina.
Let’s avoid making use of our calculators for once go and make us proud boys #SoarSuperEagles