Population: 170 million
Area: 923,768 sq km
Currency: Nigerian naira
Federation: Nigerian Football Association, founded 1945, affiliated to Fifa in 1959
Registered players: 58,750
Kit colours: All green with white trim
Team nickname: Super Eagles
World Cup record: Second round (1994, 1998), first round (2002, 2010)
CAN appearances: 17 (1963, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013)
CAN honours: Winners (1980, 1994, 2013), finalists (1984, 1988, 1990, 2000), third place (1976, 1978, 1992, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010)
How they qualified for FIFA World Cup 2014: Won Africa zone Group F with 12pts ahead of Malawi 7, Kenya 6 and Namibia 5 7 goals for and 3 against. Then beat Ethiopia 4-1 of aggregate in the play-offs.
Top clubs: Bayelsa United, Heartland FC, Kano Pillars, Enyimba FC
Having won the 2013 African Nations Cup and the 2013 Under-17’s World Cup Nigeria are the flag-bearers of the African continent and their authoritative coach Stephen Keshi is hoping a certain stability in the national game means they can target the quarter-finals.
To do so they’ll have to negotiate their way past two-time winners Argentina, newcomers Bosnia and outsiders Iran in the group phase.
Coach Keshi is a former international himself and has the distinction of winning the African Cup of Nations as a player in 1994 and as a coach in 2013, having taken over as Nigeria boss in November 2011.
In fact Keshi’s experience in coaching is exclusively in national teams, with Togo and Mali his previous charges.
Nigeria has a population of 170 million so Keshi’s has a huge talent pool to choose from.
Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has been on brilliant form at club level with Lille this year and is the most experienced international in the outfit.
The full backs Elderson Echiéjilé and Celtic’s Efe Ambrose, who was named in the team of the tournament for the 2013 CAN are steady and versatile while Chelsea’s on loan 20-year-old centre-half Kenneth Omeruo was also an ever present during both the CAN and the Confederations Cup.
The defence only let in five goals in all eight of their qualifying games, winning their group and then taking out Ethiopia 4-1 on aggregate in the play off.
Fenerbache centre-forward Emmanuel Emenike and the Liverpool winger Victor Moses are expected to be Keshi’s preferred forwards, but there are a whole string of strikers in contention. During the last CAN he only took those players willing and able to join the pre-CAN training camp, excluding for example West Brom forward Peter Odemwingie.
In midfield John Obi Mikel, also with Lille, plays a more creative role with Nigeria than he did all those years at Chelsea and he is the man relied upon in the hole behind the strikers, while Sunday Mba is a good replacement to feed the strikers when Mikel moves out left.
Four years ago in South Africa the Super Eagles, as Nigeria are known, fell at the first round after defeats to Argentina, who they face against this time around and lost 2-1 to Greece before a 2-2 draw with South Korea, flying back to Lagos with a single point.
In Africa it is often said that Nigeria have the most talent pool of players but don’t win the tournaments because of a lack of focus. But now Nigeria have a solid coach, a focused and talented group of players and the infrastructure to back up their teams at tournaments, as shown at the Beijing Games where they got silver, at the 2013 CAN and at the 2013 Under-17’s World Cup.