Despite a young and improved squad, Nigeria have been put in a very tough group

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Nigeria World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide

Nigeria romped through the toughest of Africa’s 2018 World Cup qualifying groups with such ease that it is difficult to offer a convincing argument against their credentials. However, this current crop of Super Eagles remain a side in need of improvement. It is a young squad, much changed from the team that reached the second round at the last World Cup in Brazil. Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi are yet to deliver on the impact that has been expected of them, although Iwobi did get the goal that ensured World Cup qualification when they beat Zambia 1-0.

Related: World Cup Stadiums

Key Moments in Qualifying 

Oct 2016
After the embarrassment of missing out on qualifying for the 2017 African Nations Cup finals, Nigeria go to Zambia for their opening game of their World Cup group and come away with an unexpected 2-1 win, courtesy of first half goals from Iwobi and Iheanacho.
Jun 2017
After losing at home to South Africa at the start of the 2019 Nations Cup qualifiers, coach Gernot Rohr only just manages to hold onto his job.
Sep 2017
The key group game against the African champions Cameroon has weeks of pre-match hype but what is expected to be a tightly fought affair turns into a 4-0 rout for Nigeria.
Oct 2017
Needing only to draw at home to Zambia, Iwobi scores the only goal of the game.

Nigeria World Cup Group

Nigeria are in a tough group alongside Argentina, Iceland, and a tough to beat Croatia.

Nigeria World Cup Friendlies

On the 23rd of March Nigeria travel to play Poland, before welcoming Serbia on the 27th. A matchup against the DR Congo takes place on the 28th of May and finally, Nigeria play England on the 2nd of June.

  • 23rd March – Poland (lost 1-0)
  • 27th March – Serbia (lost 2-0)
  • 28th May – DR Congo
  • 2nd June – England

Related: World Cup Friendlies

Nigeria World Cup Fixtures

Nigeria open their World Cup account against Ivan Rakitic‘s Croatia on the 16th of June. Six days later on June 22nd they play Iceland. And finally they play Argentina on the 26th in Saint Petersburg. 

Related: Sergio Aguero November 2007

The Coach

Gernot Rohr, age 64 (28.6.53)
Appointed in August 2016 on a two-year contract, the former Bayern Munich player spent 12 years at Bordeaux, going on to coach the club and take them to the 1996 UEFA Cup Final, where they lost to Bayern. Began his African coaching career at Etoile Sahel and led the national teams of Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso before his surprise appointment by Nigeria.

Surprise: Rohr was a shock appointment, but he has proven how capable he is guiding the team to the World Cup (Getty Images)

The Players
Stars
Victor Moses proved in the campaign that Nigeria are one level up on their ability when he plays. John Obi Mikel is still the orchestrator in midfield, playing a more advanced midfield role than he did at club level.
Stalwarts
Leon Balogun has not been around long but he already captains the side and is the defensive bulwark in a relatively inexperienced back four.
Missing
First-choice goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has not played since announcing in July that he had been diagnosed with acute leukemia.
Debuts
Nigeria failed to get Tammy Abraham to give up his England career.

Nigeria World Cup Squad

Preliminary World Cup Squad – 

Goalkeepers – Daniel Akpeyi, Vincent Enyeama, Ikechukwu Ezenwa

Defenders – Shehu Abdullahi,Ola Aina, Chidozie Awaziem, Leon Balogun, Elderson Echiejile, Stephen Eze, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong

Midfielders – Oghenekaro Etebo, John Obi Mikel, Wilfred Ndidi, Joel Obi, John Ogu, Ogenyi Onazi, Moses Simon

Forwards – Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa

Nigeria World Cup Injuries

We will update you with any injuries regularly.

Related: World Cup TV Schedule

Top Dog: Moses is undeniably the best player in the Nigerian squad (Getty Images)

The Unanswered Questions

Could Nigeria go further than any other African country has gone before at a finals?
No African team has made the last four at a World Cup and it has always been supposed that Nigeria, with its population of some 190 million, would be the first. This squad, however, might not be the one to do so.

Will Nigeria change their goalkeeper before the World Cup?
Carl Ikeme’s absence left a void which Ikechuwku Ezenwa did not look capable of filling in the later stage of qualifying. This could see a return for Vincent Enyeama, who retired from the national team after a spat with previous coach Sunday Oliseh.

Recall: Will first-choice goalkeeper Carl Ikeme come backfire being diagnosed with leukaemia? (Getty Images)

Will they be properly prepared?
For the first time, Nigeria look to have a proactive administration. They have already had a friendly in Russia, where they beat Argentina, and they also managed to persuade CAF to postpone their 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier in the Seychelles in March so that they can get themselves some more testing preparation before the World Cup finals.

Related: World Cup Fixtures

Who could make a late push for inclusion for the squad?
Strikers Emmanuel Dennis of Club Brugge and Midtjylland’s Paul Onuachu are among the top scorers in the league in Belgium and Denmark this season.

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