World Cup 2014 Group F – Nigeria

Outright odds: 300/1

To win group: 12/1

To qualify: 13/8

 

Full squad: Vincent Enyeama (Lille), Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Elderson Echiejile (Monaco), Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC), Joseph Yobo (Norwich City), Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio), Gabriel Reuben (Beveren), Michael Uchebo (Cercle Brugge), Ramon Azeez (Almeria), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce), Peter Odemwingie, (Stoke City), Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen), Babatunde Michael (Volyn).

 

Manager: Stephen Keshi

 

World Cup record: Last 16 (1994, 1998), group stage (2002, 2010)

 

 

Nigeria’s performance at the last World Cup was so below expectations that Goodluck Jonathan himself removed the side from the international stage for two years; “President Goodluck Jonathan has directed that Nigeria withdraws from international competition for two years to enable the country to put its house in order,” but judged on recent results, they may well have done the trick as Nigeria arrive in Brazil as African Cup of Nations champions.

 

However, while they have been given a chance of progression to the last 16 with a fair group, taking it may be a struggle based on recent competitive results. Nigeria were placed in a very easy group but could only draw 12 points from a section that hosted Malawi, Kenya and Nambia in it, with all three of those nations holding the Super Eagles to 1-1 draws.

There was no shame in losses to Uruguay and Spain at last summer’s Confederations Cup but with Argentina expected to bat them for the fourth straight occasion in the last group game they essentially have two shots at making the knockout stage and they’ll need to do better than the seven goals they scored in 6 games on the way here – on the way to Brazil, no side scored less than Nigeria.

 

Nigeria do have players capable of making a mark on games, many familiar faces from the last World Cup and also to European football watches, not least Vicror Moses in attack. His pace and power is typical of African forwards and he can provides cutting edge to supply Emmanuel Emenike, who scored 11 times in 21 games for Fenerbache in the last league season. However outside of those two, options are bleak.

 

Nobody scored more than one in qualifying apart from the top two and Shola Ameobi looks a shell of his best days for Newcastle, while Ahmed Musa looked limited in hitting the back of the net just 7 times for CSKA Moscow. Peter Odemwingie was better for Stoke and his pace is a much needed option

 

John Obi Mikel is a more advanced midfielder for country then club, and has improved for Chelsea, and Ogenyi Onazi managed 29 league games for Lazio. Those two will look to be the main outlets for creativity but they found that hard going through the group stage and more is needed here at this level to avoid a repeat of four years ago.

 

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