The Super eagles as they are known which have been on stage three times reached the World Cup for the first time in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. They were managed by Clemens Westerhof who is commonly considered to be the best coach to have ever led Nigeria.
Nigeria topped their group which included Argentina, Bulgaria, and Greece. In their first game Nigeria defeated Bulgaria 3-0, lost to Argentina 1-2, and qualified for the second round after a 2-0 victory over Greece. In the second round Nigeria played Italy and were within one minute of qualifying for the Quarter finals of 1994 World Cup but Roberto Baggio scored to take the game to extra time. He also scored the eventual winning goal.
In 1998 Nigeria returned to the World Cup alongside Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, and South Africa. Optimism was high due to their manager Bora Milutinovc and the return of most 1994 squad members.
The Eagles qualified for the second round with win against Bulgaria and loss to Paraguay. Nigeria again qualify with optimism. With a new squad and distinctive pastel green kits the Super Eagles were expected to build on their strong performances in the 2000 and 2002 African Cup of Nations.
Nigeria missed out on qualification for the 2006 World Cup after finishing level on points in the qualification group with Angola, but having an inferior record in the matches between the sides.
In the race to South Africa, Nigeria was on the brink of elimination in their penultimate qualifier in October when they scored a stoppage time winner against Mozambique to keep alive their chances. But they were still two points behind Tunisia on the final day of the preliminaries.
On 14 November, 2009, Nigeria qualified for the 2010 World Cup after defeating Kenya by 3-2 in Nairobi while Tunisia slipped to a surprise defeat in Mozambique The Super Eagles reached the last 16 in 1994 and 1998 but fell at the first hurdle in their two subsequent tournament appearances (2002 and 2010). Nigeria qualified easily.
One of two unbeaten African sides (along with Ivory Coast), they ended five points clear in their group, then beat Ethiopia 4-1 in a play-off. Stephen Keshi may be reluctant to pack his bags for Brazil just yet. He led Togo to their first World Cup but was sacked a few months before the 2006 tournament. Four years earlier the same fate befell him as Nigeria assistant coach. While he does not fear the sack this time he concedes: "We are talking about Nigeria here, so you never know what may happen.
Key Players:- Victor Moses has quickly become an integral figure since making his debut in 2012. He provided real cutting edge at this year's Africa Cup of Nations and was sorely missed at the Confederations Cup, for which he was injured Obi Mikel, aged 26 and plays in the Midfield. Elegant midfielder but his appearances for Nigeria to date have been mediocre and, at times, almost inconsequential.
PROSPECTS: Nigeria which is 36th on FIFA classification table, is Africa’s most populated country and therefore seen as the side with the best chance of being the first from the continent to win a World Cup, they are in a crisis of confidence and also lack a player of genuine world class and creativity in the squad, a void left by the retirement of Jay-Jay Okocha.
After failing to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, the Super Eagles have undergone a radical transformation under Steven Keshi, who has sought to lower the average age of the squad. His selection policy, at times controversial, has paid off - this year the Super Eagles won their first African title since 1994. They produced a competent showing at the Confederations Cup, but improvement is needed to reach the knock-out stages in 2014.Download 2014 World cup E-Book at http://www.africafootballs.com/shop