National Team: Nigeria

Football is the most famous sport in Africa. In FIFA world cups, African countries such as Cameron and Morocco appeared five and four times respectively. Nigeria is another football playing African nation. As of now Nigeria national football team is the second best team of the in Africa.

The team is growing everyday to surpass Cameron, the number one African football team. And according to FIFA rankings, Nigeria is the 23rd best team in the world of football. 5th is the highest ranking ever attained by Nigerian team in April 1994.

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is the governing body for National football team of Nigeria. And team is practicing under the supervision of Shaibu Amodu since April 2008. Before his appointment as head coach, he has also served the Nigerian team as manager from April 2001 to February 2002.

National animal of Nigeria is Eagle, which gave nickname “Super Eagles” to the team. Before playing their first international match, they played several unofficial warm up matches against teams like South Liverpool, Bishop Auckland and Dulwich Hamlet. Super Eagles played their first international match against Sierra Leone on 8 October, 1949 as a guest team and won by 2-0.  Ten years later, Nigeria registered their biggest victory ever after beating Dahomey in November 1959 with a massive difference of 9 goals; final score was 10-1.

First success in the history of Nigerian football came in 2nd all- African Games which were held in Nigeria in 1973. In finals, Super Eagles triumphed over Guinea to win gold medal. Then, in 1976 and 1978 Nigeria again show their mettle by securing third place in African Nations Cup on both occasions. In 1980, they outperformed all the teams to win gold for the first time in Africa Cup of Nations. Super Eagles beat Algeria by 3-0 in the finals. In final encounter, Segun Odegbami netted two goals while final goal was scored by Muda Lawal. Nigeria national football team repeated history again in 1994 by conquering over Zambia in finals by 2-1. They fell short of winning gold four times and they had to satisfy themselves by being at second place. Out of four they loose to Cameron three times which leads to intense rivalry between two nations. In 2006, Nigeria secured third place in the tournament.

National football team of Nigeria qualified for FIFA world cup times in 1994, 1998 and 2002. In 1994 and 1998 super eagle qualified for the semi finals however, could not reach quarter finals. In 1990, they loose to Cameron in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers with a narrow margin.

The team qualified for Confederation Cup in 1995. Despite starting with a bang against Japan (0-3), they had to settle with fourth place. For third place, the team had an encounter with Mexico but missed last penalty and lost the third place.

For Nigeria, Rashidi Yekini is the top scorer with 37 goals in 70 international matches. He also owns the credit for posting first goal in FIFA World Cup for Nigeria, when they beat Bulgaria by 3-0 in 1994. In the same year, Nigeria won African nations cup and Yekini was the top scorer of the tournament with five goals. He was the first Nigerian player to win African footballer of the year in 1993. The midfielder played for various clubs such as FC Zurich, Al-Shabab and Club Athletique Bizertin.

As of now, Nigeria national football team is playing 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the football squad is led by Nwankwo Kanu. The 33 years old striker has played 79 matches for Nigeria and scored 13 goals. He is the most celebrated African footballer in the football history. He has won almost every championship; few of them are UEFA Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Other achievements of the Nigerian captain include winning African Footballer of the Year award in 1997 and 2000. He is the only player in current Premier League who has won UEFA Cup, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, Premier League, and an Olympic gold medal. Kanu plays for Portsmouth football club apart from playing for national football team of Nigeria

Other experienced players of the current team are goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, defender Joseph Yobo, midfielder John Obi Mikel. Nigerian goalkeeper has played 42 games. He was the goalkeeper of Nigerian squad that won CAF Champions league in 2003 and 2004. The 29 years old defender Yobo is the most experienced player after captain Kanu of the team and plays for Everton football club. Mikel is young yet experienced player of the Nigerian football team. He also plays for Chelsea cricket club as a midfielder. He won African young player of the year award consecutively for two years in 2005 and 2006.

Presently, the team’s kit comprises green and white color signifying their national flag. While playing at home the kit of Nigerian team consists of green shorts and green jersey with white trim. And white shorts and white jersey with green trim, if they team is playing away from home.

Nigeria national under-17 football team is the current world champion. The U-17 team has won three world championships in 1985, 1993 and 2007. This is in conjunction with Brazilian U-17 football team who has also won three U-17 world cups. The U-17 football team also won African Under-17 Championship in 2001 and 2007. Three time world champions got nickname “Golden Eagles.”

"Flying Eagles" is the nick name of Nigeria national U-20 football team. Even U-20 team is high rated squad as they have won five African youth titles and four in succession from 1983 to 1989 and the recent one was in 2005. In FIFA world youth championship, U-20 team gained third place in 1985.

In 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and 2010 African Cup of Nations, Nigeria national football team has won all six matches in group matches. It is for the fourth time that the team has been qualified for FIFA World Cup and the march is on!

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