Nigeria will be playing at the global tournament for the sixth time in their history and there’s that high sense of optimism that they can go further than they have in previous editions.
The Super Eagles were paired in a qualifying group that contained Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia, all former African champions. They were expected to struggle but they rose above mediocrity and avoided defeat all through, winning four and drawing two games to finish on top.
Nigeria were ranked 70th in the world before the qualifiers but have climbed 22 places up to 48th which is a clear sign of the team’s improvement.
Road to the Trophy:
The West African giants are paired in Group D alongside familiar opponents Argentina who they will be meeting for the fifth time in the group phase, Croatia and Iceland. Nigeria has not been able to go past the round of 16 in the competition but with renewed optimism, they could go much farther.
The Super Eagles took part in six warm-up friendlies, winning two which were against heavyweights La Albiceleste and Poland. Though they lost a high profile game against England at Wembley, there are many positives to take from the game.
It’s a star-studded squad in Russia but one name that stands out is Alex Iwobi. The nephew of the legendary Jay-Jay Okocha has been growing in leaps and bounds since he broke into the Arsenal first team and has become an integral part of not only the Gunners but the Super Eagles.
He scored vital goals against Zambia during the qualifiers as well as against Argentina and England in the firendlies. His presence will be crucial once again.
Believe the Trophy is ours! Be audacious and speak confidence in the face of adversity.