Nigeria became the first African team to qualify for the 2018 Fifa World Cup thanks to their impressive outing in the qualifiers. Blessed with a good blend of youth and experience, Gernot Rohr’s side will be hoping to go beyond the Round of 16 – which stands as the country’s best finish since their debut in 1994.
To achieve this target, the three-time African champions must begin with a positive result against Croatia at the Kaliningrad Stadium on June 16, before taking on debutants Iceland then 2014 runners-up, Argentina.
Although it is hard to envisage how high the Super Eagles would soar in Russia, Goal presents a guide on how Nigeria’s World Cup foes fared during their recent international friendlies in preparation for the football showpiece.
POLAND 0 NIGERIA 1
The Super Eagles’ preparations for the World Cup received a major boost thanks to their 1-0 victory over the Polish national team at the Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw.
Victor Moses’ 61st minute penalty settled the encounter as Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong combined well to cage Robert Lewandowski, while Joel Obi who in the absence of John Obi Mikel held sway in the midfield.
Another high point of the game was Francis Uzoho’s commanding display in goal for Gernot Rohr’s men who remain unbeaten since September 2017.
The result is no doubt a disappointment for Adam Nawałka’s team but they would be hoping to shake off the defeat when they slug it out with Korea Republic on Tuesday, same day Nigeria try Serbia for size in London.
ITALY 0 ARGENTINA 2
Argentina shook off their humiliating 4-2 loss to Nigeria in November 2017 to spank Italy 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
Even without inspirational Lionel Messi, Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini handed La Albiceleste a morale-boosting victory over the Europeans who will be missing out of the 2018 World Cup.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli chose not to parade Messi who is struggling with a sore adductor muscle, while Sergio Aguero pulled out of the encounter as he recovers from a minor injury.
At the age 36, Chelsea’s Willy Caballero made his senior international debut. With his smart saves plus impressive performance, he looks certain to give preferred choice, Sergio Romero a run for Argentina's first team place.
Argentina face Spain in their next friendly game billed for the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday evening.
MEXICO 3 ICELAND 0
Iceland build up towards their World Cup debut suffered a minor impediment as they crumbled 3-0 to Mexico in Saturday’s international friendly at the Levi’s Stadium.
Marco Fabian’s first half strike and Miguel Layun’s second-half brace powered El Tri past Heimir Hallgrímsson’s men.
Going into this encounter, Our Boys had spanked Indonesia 6-0 and 4-1 respectively.
They face Peru in their next friendly on Wednesday before facing Norway on June 2.
PERU 2 CROATIA 0
Croatia bowed 2-0 to Peru in Saturday’s international friendly played at the Hard Rock Stadium, Florida.
Goals from Andre Carrillo and Edison Flores silenced the Europeans who will be making their fifth Fifa World Cup appearance in Russia.
Zlatko Dalić’s men went into the encounter having in mind that they have not lost their last four games, but against the South Americans, they failed to reignite their spark despite Peru having Yoshimar Yohu sent off for a second caution.
They face Mexico in their next friendly on Wednesday at the AT&T Stadium, Texas.