In Russia, the Nigeria team will play the sixth World Cup in its history. Nigerians will challenge Croatia, Iceland and especially an Argentina they have already faced in the 2010 and 2014 Worlds.
This is presentation of the “Super Eagles” who will still face the band to Lionel Messi.
The 23 players:
Goalkeepers(3): Francis Uzoho(Deportivo La Coruna/Spain), Ikechukwu Ezenwa(Enyimba/Nigeria), Daniel Akpeyi(Chippa United/South Africa)
Defenders(8): William Troost-Ekong(Bursaspor/Turkey), Abdullahi Shehu(Bursaspor/Turkey), Tyronne Ebuehi(Ado The Hague/The Netherlands), Olaoluwa Aina(Hull City/England), Elderson Echiejile(Bruges Circle/Belgium), Chidozie Awaziem(Nantes/France), Leon Balogun(Brighton/England), Kenneth Omeruo(Kasimpasa/Turkey)
Midfielder(7): John Obi Mikel(Tianjin Teda/China), Ogenyi Onazi(Trabzonspor/Turkey), Wilfred Ndidi(Leicester City/England), Oghenekaro Etebo(Las Palmas/Spain), John Ogu(Hapoel Be’er Sheva/Israel), Joel Obi(Torino/Italy), Mikel Agu(Bursaspor/Turkey)
Attackers(5): Ahmed Musa(CSKA Moscow/Russia), Kelechi Iheanacho(Leicester City/England), Victor Moses(Chelsea / England), Odion Ighalo(Changchun Yatai/China), Alex Iwobi(Arsenal/England).
The likely type-team: Francis Uzoho – Elderson Echiejile, Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong Abdullahi Shehu – Wilfred Ndidi, Obi Mikel John (cap), Ogenyi Onazi – Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses
The game system (s): 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 5-3-2…
Gernot Rohr, the coach of the “Super Eagles” tested several diagrams, especially during the friendly matches of last months. But we are heading towards a four-man defense with a John Obi Mikel with a stick in the middle and some very active wingers. In any case, Nigeria has achieved its most convincing benefits.
The star player: The best years of John Obi Mikel are certainly behind him. For this technically powerful midfielder technically left Chelsea and England for the Tianjin Teda in China in 2017. But even after a season away from Europe, the right-handed 31-year-old remains a safe bet for football Nigerian.
His experience will be invaluable anyway, the overwhelming majority of “Super Eagles” have never played in Mondial.
The key player: Francis Uzoho, the youngest Nigerian player (19 years old) has a very heavy responsibility: to make Vincent Enyeama forget.
Thanks in particular to their emblematic goalkeeper, the “Super Eagles” reached the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup. The young goalkeeper of the Deportivo reserve will he be at the height of his illustrious elder? Gernot Rohr is forced to believe it, between an Enyeama who has not played for several months and a Carl Ikeme with leukemia.
The coach: Gernot Rohr. At 64, the Germano-German will play his first World Cup. This ex-defender polyglot is yet an experienced coach since he has led several clubs in France in particular, before crisscrossing Africa: Gabon, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria….
The statistics: 5. The number of players already present at the 2014 World Cup: Kenneth Omeruo, John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi, Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses. Note that Elderson Echiejile is the only survivor of the 2010 edition but missed the one in Brazil because of an injury. The World Cups follow each other, but the Nigerian numbers are not the same.
The preparation: A draw against DR Congo (1-1) in Port-Hartcourt then a 2-1 defeat to England in London before a final test against the Czech Republic (June 6 in Austria).
Opponents in Russia: Croatia on June 16 in Kaliningrad, Iceland on June 22 in Volgograd and finally Argentina on June 26 in St. Petersburg. The Super Eagles never faced the Croatians and crossed the Icelandic road in 1981 alone.
On the other hand, they know very well the band to Lionel Messi for having confronted it during Worlds 2010 and 2014!
The past in the World Cup: Nigeria will play its 6th final phase, after 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014, making it the most regular African country in the World Cup after Cameroon (7 participations).
The Super Eagles have passed the first round three times, a record. However, they never reached the quarter of the tournament.
The moment that changed everything:November 17, 2015. We forget it a little fast but Nigeria has come close to the disaster in the second round of playoffs. Held in a 0-0 draw by Swaziland on 13 November in Lobamba, Nigerians struggled to keep their modest opponents 2-0 away. Without this sluggish victory, the “Super Eagles” would never have seen Russia…