Nigerians not totally bonkers in suggesting 2014 World Cup victory
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and captain Vincent Enyeama are among those stating that their team can win the 2014 World Cup and although this does seem more than a touch optimistic, it is not totally out of the question.
The World Cup betting suggests otherwise, with Nigeria 250/1 to lift the trophy in Brazil, behind fellow African contenders Ivory Coast (125/1) and Ghana (150/1).
This is not especially shocking, as there have only been three instances previously of an African nation reaching the quarter finals of a World Cup, with none having gone any deeper into the tournament.
Although Ghana were an injury-time missed penalty away from reaching the semi finals in 2010, the best African team to arguably line up at the World Cup was Nigeria in 1994.
They led eventual runners-up Italy until the 88th minute in the round of 16 before eventually going out in extra time. This team included the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Emmanuel Amunike, Viktor Ikpeba and Finidi George.
The one problem of this golden generation, which went on to claim Olympic gold in 1996, was their youth, with many of the star players still barely out of their teens.
Current Nigeria manager Stephan Keshi was also a member of this squad, but at his disposal now are players that may not be quite as good as those of 1994, but bring a different strength in terms of experience.
At least eight of the names expected to be in Keshi’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup have played Champions League football already in their career.
Among the similarities to the class of 94 is that Nigeria head to the World Cup as the reigning African Cup of Nations winners, while a 2-2 friendly draw with Italy shows they can compete with the biggest names in Brazil.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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