FIFA Rank: 57
Coach: Stephen Keshi
Captain: Joseph Yobo
Nickname: Super Eagles
Best AFCON finish: Champions (1980, 1994)
AFCON 2012 finish: Did not qualify
When Nigeria failed to qualify for AFCON 2012 in Equatorial Guinea
and Gabon, it was the first time in 26 years they had missed out on
reaching the continental showpiece.
The two-time African champions moved to appoint Stephen Keshi in
November 2011. That decision was vindicated when the former national
team captain guided the Super Eagles to the South Africa extravaganza
with an emphatic 8-3 aggregate win over Liberia in the final round of
It was Keshi, who as captain of the side led Nigeria to their second
AFCON success in 1994. The 50-year-old will be hoping to inspire his
charges to another triumph some 19 years down the line.
However, Keshi has yet to taste victory as a coach in the AFCON,
having failed to win any games whilst in charge of Togo and Mali in
previous editions of the tournament. There is no doubt he will be
determined to change that statistic in Mzanzi come January.
Nigeria have finished runners-up in the AFCON on four occasions -
1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000 - while they claimed third place seven times.
The Super Eagles are led by the vastly experienced Joseph Yobo, who
is his country's most capped player having featured 88 times for the
The Fenerbahce defender has taken home three bronze medals at AFCON
- in 2004, 2006 and 2010 - but will be hoping to go all the way this
time around as Nigeria look to be crowned African champions for a third
Veteran goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama will likely be first-choice
between the sticks, while Taye Taiwo is another stalwart in defence for
Jon Obi Mikel is expected to play a major role for Keshi in South
Africa. The Chelsea midfielder is the most capped player in the engine
room for Nigeria.
West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie, Villarreal frontman Obafemi
Martins and recent Blues addition Victor Moses will be amongst those
tasked with supplying the goals for the Super Eagles at the tournament.
Goalkeepers: Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers), Austin Ejide (Hapoel
Be'er Sheba/ISR), Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv/ISR)
Defenders: Efe Ambrose (Celtic/SCO), Elderson Echiejile (Braga/POR),
Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag/NED),
Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod/ISR), Joseph
Midfielders: Reuben Gabriel (Kano Pillars), Nosa Igiebor (Real
Betis/ESP), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea/ENG), Obiora Nwankwo (Calcio
Padova/ITA), Fegor Ogude (Valerenga/NOR), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio/ITA)
Strikers: Sunday Mba and Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu), Emmanuel Emenike
(Spartak Moscow/RUS), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv/UKR), Victor Moses
(Chelsea/ENG), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Ikechukwu Uche
Watch: John Obi Mikel
Joseph Yobo, Nigeria's most capped player and current captain, will
be crucial to the team's bid for a third AFCON title. The 32-year-old
is by far the most experienced member of the Super Eagles squad and
will bring a measure of calmness to the back-four. Ikechukwu Uche has
also come on in leaps and bounds since making his international debut
in 2007, scoring the majority of his 18 goals for Nigeria in the last
However, one feels that Nigeria’s fortunes will depend largely on
John Obi Mikel’s form. The Chelsea midfielder is back in the national
team set-up after an extended absence for a variety of reasons. He will
be expected to keep things ticking over in the middle of the park.
Mikel is not much of a goal threat, having only scored three times for
his country, but he more than makes up for that with his no-nonsense
combative style and the tireless back-breaking shifts he puts in.
Rising Star: Victor Moses
Victor Moses had previously represented England at every level from
Under-16 to Under-21, but switched allegiances to the country of his
birth in November 2011. He went on to make his debut for the Super
Eagles three months later against Rwanda. The 22-year-old has already
scored a couple of important goals for Chelsea following his switch
from Wigan in the off-season, and will be determined to make a similar
contribution for Stephen Keshi's side in South Africa.
Sorely Missed: Odemwingie
Two notable absentees from Keshi's 23-man AFCON squad are Taye Taiwo
and Peter Odemwingie. AC Milan left-back Taiwo, who is currently on
loan at Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv, has racked up 53 appearances for
Nigeria since making his debut in 2004. It is Odemwingie whose omission
came as a big surprise.
After impressing for West Brom over the past 18 months, scoring 14
Premier League goals in that period, surely the Super Eagles could have
done with a proven goal scorer of his calibre. The 31-year-old has also
played 55 times for the Super Eagles, but will not get the chance to
add to that in South Africa.
ROAD TO FINALS
Nigeria’s failure to reach the finals of the previous AFCON edition
in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon meant that they had to get through two
qualifying rounds to secure their 2013 berth.
Stephen Keshi's side were made to work for their place in the second
round by Rwanda before progressing on the back of a 2-0 aggregate win.
After a goalless first leg in Kigali the Super Eagles sealed their
progress to the next round with a 2-0 victory on home turf in Calabar,
thanks to goals from Ikechukwu Uche (9) and Ahmed Musa (56).
The two-time AFCON champions clinched their qualification for South
Africa with an emphatic 8-3 aggregate victory over Liberia.
Nigeria surrendered the lead in Paynesville to draw the first leg
2-2, with Nosa Igiebor (22) and Uche (26 pen) responding to Omega
Roberts' fifth-minute opener for the hosts before Sekou Oliseh (66)
came to their rescue.
Keshi's charges dismantled the Lone Stars in Calabar, winning the
return fixture 7-1 as Efe Ambrose (1), Musa (38), Victor Moses (48, 88)
John Obi Mikel (50 pen) and Uche (72) weighed in with goals for the
dominant hosts. Patrick Wleh's 80th-minute goal was scant consolation
for the beaten Liberians.
First round, first leg
Rwanda 0-0 Nigeria
First round, second leg
Nigeria 2-0 Rwanda
Second round, first leg
Liberia 2-2 Nigeria
Second round, second leg
Nigeria 6-1 Liberia
things you never knew about Nigeria
1. Nigeria is home to the world’s third-largest film industry known
as “Nollywood”. The two biggest are Hollywood (USA) and Bollywood
2. Nigeria is the 3rd largest market in the world for Guinness and
one of the few places outside Ireland where Guinness is brewed.
Interestingly the Nigerian stout has a slightly different flavour to
the Irish one; according to experts it is less bitter but stronger.
3. Nigeria has the largest population of any country in Africa.
Approximately one out of every two West Africans, one out of every four
Africans, and one out of every five persons of African origin is a
5. Defender Taye Taiwo, who was on loan at QPR last season, is famed
for his powerful long-range shooting and free kicks. Reports suggest
that his shot has been clocked at over 130kph.
6. Blackburn midfielder Dickson Etuhu only started playing football
when he was 15. Up to that point he represented Great Britain at youth
athletics events doing both the triple jump and long jump.
7. In 2004 several Nigerian football stars, including then national
team skipper Jay-Jay Okocha, Taribo West and Nwankwo Kanu were slammed
by the government for their "gay hairstyles." A leading government
official from the information ministry slammed the soccer trend-setters
on national television saying: "Our youths are now taking after our
great football stars... don't forget that in the developing world that
the braiding of hair and earrings have a sense of homosexuality."
8. Nigeria's West Bromwich Albion striker Peter Odemwingie was
actually born in Kazakhstan but he chose to play for his fatherland
9. Chelsea and Nigeria star John Mikel Obi has a strong connection
to South Africa. He began his career at Ajax Cape Town where he played
for the Urban Warriors Youth Team before making the move to London via
Lyn in Norway.
10. In Nigeria it is possible to get married for a set period of
time. While traditional marriage is possible it is also permissible to
engage in Nikah mut'ah or “marriage for pleasure.” This is a fixed-term
union, which is a marriage with a preset duration, after which the
marriage is automatically dissolved.