If previous World Cups have taught us anything it is not to underestimate Nigeria
In 1994, Nigeria grabbed the world’s attention, by thrashing Bulgaria in the group stage, narrowly losing out to Argentina, and then topping their group with a comprehensive win over a hapless Greek side. Sixteen years later, the Super Eagles will once again face the Greeks and Argentineans, as well as Korean Republic. If coach Lars Lagerback can gel what is undoubtedly a talented pool of individuals, then Nigeria have a realistic chance of topping Group B – especially considering the questionable form of Maradona’s Argentina.
Lars Lagerback It’s somewhat strange that the Nigerian Football Federation deemed it necessary to sack Shaibu Amodu, the man who guided the Super Eagles to World Cup qualification, only to appoint a man who couldn’t do the same for Sweden. Still, the NFF felt that comically named Lars Lagerback was the man for the job – even ahead of Glen Hoddle and Sven Goran Erikkson.
Player to watch
Lukman Haruna The obvious option would perhaps be Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel, but Time Out is more excited by young talent Lukman Haruna. The Monaco midfielder captained the Nigerian U17s to victory in last year’s World Championship, and if he can transfer any of his dynamism to this tournament, we could witness the birth of a new African football sensation.
We’re on the ball
World Cup appearances: 3 Previous best: Last 16, 1994 & 1998 Odds of winning: 100/1 Strange but true: Before his dismissal in 2010, Shaibu Amodu had coached the Super Eagles on three separate occasions – 1994-95, 1998-99 and 2001-02. In 2002 he was fired after Nigeria qualified for the World Cup in Japan and Korea. Some guys just can’t catch a break… Fixtures: Argentina, June 12, 6pm, Johannesburg Greece, June 17, 6pm, Bloemfontein Korea Republic, June 22, 10.30pm, Durban