World Cup team preview: Nigeria

Nigeria have already captured the world’s attention with their World Cup jersey selling out worldwide, but they have a daunting task ahead of them in Russia.

Since his arrival, Gernot Rohr has instilled a great team culture within the Nigerian camp and their improved discipline and team spirit will be a key factor if they are to turn any heads over the next month.

The Super Eagles were the first African team to qualify for the tournament as they went unbeaten in qualifying, which included a 4-0 drilling of the current African Cup of Nations holders Cameroon.

While the West African giants will have to be resolute at the back, their hopes of progressing past the group stages will lie in their wealth of attacking options with the likes of Victor Moses, Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa and Alex Iwobi all in the mix.

A player that could be a defining feature for the Super Eagles is Wilfried Ndidi. The Leicester City midfielder will play a key role in marshalling the defensive line while also providing a potential link-up between defence and attack.

There is no doubt Nigeria have an abundance of talent on paper, but their performance leading up to the World Cup has been woeful after recording three losses, a draw and just one victory in their last five matches.

They will face Croatia in their first match of the tournament before coming up against Iceland and then Argentina. One victory and a draw will most likely be the minimum requirement to progress.

Nigeria’s biggest problem is their inexperience and the tendency for their stars to not feature very much in national colours. It is going to be difficult to repeat their 2014 World Cup appearance in the knockout stages.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United).

Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor), Tyronne Ebuehi (Den Haag), Elderson Echiejile (Brugge), Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes), William Ekong (Bursaspor), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa).

Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin TEDA), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino).

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone).