Not since the 1994 and 1998 World Cups have the Super Eagles of Nigeria had a better chance of progressing to the Quarter Finals of the World Cup. Subsequent World Cups, however, were nothing to write home about. Nigeria did not even qualify for the 2006 edition held in Germany.
At the turn of the 21st century, soccer in the Nigeria was on the decline. Worth mentioning, however, were Nigerian youth teams all of whom performed relatively well in their respective age group tournaments. At least a steady supply of players who would develop and grow to represent the Eagles in future tournaments was guaranteed. Most notable of these were John Obi Mikel and Chinedu Obasi.
Then it happened, what would in hindsight be looked upon as resurgence. The Super Eagles under the leadership of a former player and Nation’s Cup winner himself, Stephen Keshi, recaptured the African Nations Cup in February 2013, a trophy that had eluded them for so long. A blend of both home and foreign based players was brought together without the usual interference of politicians in the Nigerian Football Federation. Team selection was influenced by the higher ups in the football hierarchy and politicians and has been a major problem in the country for years.
Keshi’s Nations Cup win gave him more leeway in picking his Confederations Cup team and also the opportunity to assert himself as the boss despite further complaints from the FA about his team selection. Sadly, the team was knocked out in the group stages with only one win to their name against lowly placed Tahiti.
Even though the fans weren’t satisfied with their team’s performance at the Confederation’s Cup, there is a lot of optimism that the team will have a better Brazil World Cup outing. It is widely believed that with the likes of forward Emmanuel Emenike, along with other players such as Ahmed Musa and shot stopper Vincent Enyeama, the team is set to outshine the other four African countries in the tournament.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria can accomplish great things with a bit of luck, the best of performances from their key players, and the spirit which has carried them last year in African Nations Cup. Stephen Keshi is a motivator and a well-respected coach who can be counted on to bring out the best from whatever team he chooses to take to Brazil.
If Nigeria can defeat Iran and newcomers Bosnia, the result against Argentina won’t matter. Now seems to be their time to soar, but only time will tell.