Super Eagles Prepare to Soar in 2018 FIFA World Cup Play
Published: March 21, 2018
Super Eagles Prepare to Soar in 2018 FIFA World Cup PlayAs an international tour of the FIFA World Cup trophy takes off from Abuja, the excitement and expectation surrounding the  Nigerian National Football Team is at an all-time high.

Owing to the spectacular win against Zambia (0-1), the team became the first African team to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

This year marks the sixth time the team has made it onto the most prestigious football stage on the planet.

The Super Eagles have qualified for five of the last six FIFA world cups, with their only absence coming in 2006.

Currently standing at 52 in the FIFA rankings, the Nigerian team is one of the highest-rated in Africa, entering FIFA World Cup play in Group D.

Although the Super Eagles lost the CHAN 2018 finals against Morocco, the team pulled out victories in championship matches against Sudan, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, and Libya; the match against Rwanda came to a draw.

This dramatic improvement in the performance of the team can be attributed to its terrific new Technical Advisor, Gernot Rohr.

Rohr, who is German, joined the team in his current capacity in 2016. He previously spent stints with Niger and Gabon, as well as Burkina Faso, and is considered as one of the most experienced coaches in Africa.

Nigeria has never advanced beyond round 16 in FIFA World Cup play, a barrier they certainly hope to erase this summer.

The performance of John Obi Mikel, the team’s pillar star midfielder and prolific captain, will be a determining factor in how far the squad can go.

Strong contributions from Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Victor Moses can also propel the Super Eagles to new levels in the Cup.

In fact, it was the goal slotted by these three that led to the win against Zambia to secure Nigeria’s entry into the 2018 tournament.  

Nigeria will also look to enthusiasm, experience, and youth as critical factors to FIFA World Cup success.

The squad mixes a nice balance of players edging towards 30 with fresh faces as young as 19.

The global stage experience of the older players coupled with the zeal of younger ones could make for a combustion that will carry the Super Eagles farther than any previous Cup appearance.

Nigeria has fixed five friendlies in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup that will see the team battle with Serbia, Poland, England, Czech Republic and DR Congo.

The team’s opening match is against Croatia, which is the chief reason why they have picked these Eastern European countries for the friendlies.

There will be plenty of obstacles standing in Nigeria’s way of going deep in the FIFA World Cup this year.

No African team has ever made it to semifinals, and the only quarterfinalists were Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002, and Ghana in 2010.

BetStars currently places Nigeria’s odds in the World Cup at 200/1.

However, with the right combination of breakout players, a young-leaning team, and the formidable coach, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if we see the Super Eagles reach the quarterfinals or beyond in 2018. 

Igho Kingsley
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