As we start the New Year, Nigeria’s national football side have qualified for the two most prestigious events that the squad could have qualified for, the World Cup and the African Cup Of Nations.
Nigeria’s Tournament History
Nigeria started to establish themselves as a dominate force in African Football at the start of the 1980’s. That year the African outfit were able to bag their first of two African Cup of Nations trophies, the team were able to win the tournament on home soil, as they defeated Algeria 3-0 in the final. The Super Eagles also sustained two runners up finishes in that decade, as they were beaten on both occasions by Cameroon, one in 1984 and the other coming four years later in 1988. Nigeria ended up finishing as the runners up in the year 1990; however the Nation were able to defeat Zambia in the 1994 final, to secure their second African Cup of Nations trophy. The last era however has seen the Nigeria National Team finish in 3rd place on three different occasions, on the other hand Jo Bonfrere squad were able to kick off the new decade as the runner’s up of the African Cup of Nations. Then the Nigeria national squad finished in 3rd place on three straight occasions, 2002, 2004 and 2006, as Nigeria were able to defeat Mali twice and Senegal, to claim the third placed honour.
2010 Nations Cup Qualification
Luckily for Nigeria the national side were able to finish as the group winners of Group B, just one point ahead of 2nd placed Tunisia. The CAF Third Round saw the Group Winners of each of the four groups qualify for the 2010 World Cup, aswell as the top three teams in each group were able to gain access into the 2010 African Cup Of Nations. Anyway on Nigeria’s perspective the team were very unconvincing in the third round of qualification, even though Shaibu Amodu side were unbeaten in Group B, they were regarded as draw specialists as the team finished the group, with three wins and three draws from their six respective games. From the first four games of the qualification round Nigeria drew three of them ties, the first one being against Mozambique. The next game saw the Super Eagles demolish Kenya, however the two games after the Kenya win, Tunisia frustrated Nigeria as the 1994 tournament winners were succumbed to two draws against The Eagles Of Carthage. On the other hand Nigeria were able to finish the group on a high note, however the results were still unconvincingly poor as the Super Eagles defeated Mozambique 1-0 and Kenya 3-2, in their final two group games. Luckily for Amodu, Obafemi Martins and Yakubu were able to come to his saviour, as the Super Eagles edged the group with a final total of twelve points.
Nigeria In Group C
Nigeria will probably be happy with this group, as the likely outcome will see them and most likely Egypt surpass from Group C. However Benin could provide stiff competition for both of them National sides, as the Benin squad is packed with quality players from French Ligue 1. Mozambique is the other side in Group C, however even though they gave Nigeria a run for their money in the Qualifying Rounds, the group overall will most likely be too competitive for them. The first group game sees Nigeria take on one of the tournaments favourites Egypt, Nigeria then play Benin in their 2nd group fixture, and lastly the Super Eagles finish the group with a tie against Mozambique.
Can Nigeria Win?
Can Nigeria win the African Cup Of Nations 2010? Well with the squad that Shaibu Amodu has picked, the team could well go far in this year’s tournament. Even though Obafemi Martins is an injury doubt, Nigeria still has the likes of Kanu, Yakubu, Odemwingie and Victor Obinna, all of whom are capable of scoring goals at international level. The squad also consists of John Obi Mikel, Seyi Olofinjana and Joseph Yobo. On paper the Super Eagles attacking force is one of the best in African Football, however it is the defence which could well crack under pressure at this years African Cup of Nations. Uwa Echiejile, Onyekachi Apam and Yusuf Mohamed are all inexperienced defenders at International level. Overall Nigeria could well make the semi finals of the number one African trophy; however the Final could prove to be too much of a long shot on the Super Eagles behalf.