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World Cup 2018: Out of Africa – Nigeria

EXPERIENCED: Moses

Capital: Abuja
Population: 195 million
FIFA World Ranking: 47th

Did you know...?
If Nigeria selected striker Mohammed Nur at the World Cup he would have become the youngest player ever to appear in the tournament aged just 15.

World Cup appearances:
2018 will be Nigeria’s sixth appearance at a World Cup – their third in a row. The Su- per Eagles have never made it past the last 16 which they reached in 1994, 1998 and 2014. Nigeria are pitted in a group with Argentina, Iceland and Croatia and will have their work cut out for to improve on their previous best.

Star player: Kelechi Iheanacho
While Nigeria may boast more experienced players such as Victor Moses and captain John Obi Mikel, Iheanacho stands out as a player who could really make a difference to the Super Eagles’ fortunes. Still only 21 years of age, Iheanacho has made a fine start to his international career notching eight goals in 13 appearances. The forward secured a £25million move to Leicester City last summer in search of regular first-team football away from Manchester City but struggled to make a notable impact this season – this may spur him on in Russia to prove a point.

Player to watch: Alex Iwobi
There is no denying Iwobi has serious technical ability with a ball at his feet; it is his consistency that has let him down. With Arsenal’s frustrating season done and dusted, the 22-year-old may be looking to show what he can really do in Russia this summer. Iwobi represented England from Under 16-18 level before making his debut for the Super Eagles in October 2015.The nephew of Nigerian legend Jay-Jay Okocha has made 19 appearances scoring five goals and will enjoy the free reign given in the side due to the protection from players such as Obi Mikel, Wilfred Ndidi and Victor Moses.

Manager: Gernot Rohr
The German has managed an array of African teams including Burkina Faso, Gabon and Niger after starting his career managing Bordeaux – thus the former defender has great experience to his name. He was appointed Nigeria manager in October 2017 and his team became the first African nation to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. In May, Rohr admitted his squad was not full of star players and stressed success in Russia would come through implementing tactical discipline. The former defender also said this is a quality his side have in abundance suggesting they will be hard to beat.

Read the rest of our profiles of the African teams competing in Russia and all of our 2018 World Cup coverage here

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