2013 African Cup of Nations champions approach the tournament with confidence
Time Out staff
The team: Qualification wasn’t much of a stretch for the Super Eagles, who swept aside mediocre opponents Kenya, Malawi and Namibia in the group stage, before dispatching Ethiopia in the playoff. But on the way to winning the 2013 African Cup of Nations, Nigeria proved they can also perform against stronger opposition and will head to Brazil high in confidence.
The coach: Stephen Keshi
Following Swedish manager Lars Lagerback’s underwhelming spell in charge, which culminated in a group round exit four years ago in South Africa, Stephen Keshi has turned around the team’s fortunes. His policy of selecting in-form domestic players over under-achieving familiar faces has restored spirit to the squad and made them difficult to beat.
Key player: John Obi Mikel
Despite mixed performances for Nigeria in the past, John Obi Mikel is now a vital presence in the team. His ability to break up play from a deep-lying position allows the attacking players the freedom to get forward.
Facts World ranking: 44 World Cup appearances: 4 Previous best: Round of 16 in 1994 and 1998 Qualification: Group winner and playoff winner Form (qualifiers): WDDWDWWW Fixtures: June 16 vs. Iran; June 22 vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina; June 25 vs. Argentina