Having endured a long wait before eventually making their debut at the 1994 edition, Clemens Westerhof’s side drew worldwide admiration in the United States.
The '94 class of Super Eagles topped their group that had Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece. But in the second round, against Italy, with two minutes of making the quarter-finals - after Emmanuel Amuneke’s 25-minute lead - Roberto Baggio conjured an equaliser before the forward’s second in the extra time saw the hope of the west African giants dashed.
In their second appearance, despite showing early promises to surpass ‘94’s - securing a remarkable comeback over European heavyweights Spain and finishing as Group D winners - a damning 4-1 loss to a rampaging Denmark booted Nigeria out of France.
Sweden, England and Argentina were all it required to halt the country’s ambition in the group stages at Korea-Japan 2002 World Cup while there was no show of the Green, White and Green at the 2006 edition in Germany.
The country would, however, return to the spotlight in 2010 as Africa - through South Africa - hosted the quadrennial event for the first time. And Nigeria, led by Lars Lagerback, couldn’t build on the African-themed buzz to make an impact, and were ousted from the tournament with just a point.
Fast forward, four years later under the late Stephen Keshi in Brazil, the Super Eagles were only bettered by regulars Argentina in the group stages but went out after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of France in the Round of 16 to continue their struggle to have a go at the much-coveted title.
Another chance to give the World Cup trophy a shot presents itself next year in Russia and with the impressive Gernot Rohr’s side that boasts of young, experienced, fresh, talented lads such as Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Leon Balogun, Caf African Player of the Year nominee Victor Moses and captain fantastic Mikel Obi, Can the Super Eagles do the unthinkable and win the trophy?
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