Coach: Lars Lagerback
World Ranking: 20
Key Player: Yakubu Aiyegbeni
World Cup Record: Three appearances – 1994, 1998 & 2002
Group B Schedule:
12 June – Argentina v Nigeria
17 June – Greece v Nigeria
22 June – Nigeria v South Korea
Nigeria changed their coach yet again at the end of February, giving the new incumbent, Swede Lagerback, little time to prepare for the World Cup. His predecessor, Shaibu Amodu, was sacked after the team lost to Ghana in the African Nations Cup semi-finals. The same fate befell Amodu in 2002 when he was fired months before the World Cup and replaced by Festus Onigbinde.
Nigeria have always been a country of much potential but the kneejerk reaction of officials to setbacks means there is little chance to build continuity.
A powerful strike force gives Nigeria fearsome potential with Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Obafemi Martins having the potential to unlock any defence, and they are supplemented by the wing play of Chinedu Obasi and Peter Odemwingie.
John Obi Mikel should recover from injury in time and be the key midfielder, although Nigeria make him push too far forward where his lack of pace and incisive passing counts against him.
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama Hapoel Tel Aviv (ISR), Dele Ayenugba Beni Yehuda (ISR), Austin Ejide Hapoel Petah Tikvah (ISR)
Defenders: Taye Taiwo Marseille (FRA), Joseph Yobo Everton (ENG), Danny Shittu Bolton Wanderers (ENG), Elderson Echiejile Rennes (FRA), Ayodele Adeleye Sparta Rotterdam (NED)
Chidi Odiah CSKA Moscow (RUS), Rabiu Afolabi SV Salzburg (AUS)
Midfielders: Nwankwo Kanu Portsmouth (ENG), Dickson Etuhu Fulham (ENG), Mikel John Obi Chelsea (ENG), Sani Kaita Alanya (RUS), Yusuf Ayila Dynamo Kiev (UKR), Kalu Uche Almeria (SPA)
Haruna Lukman Monaco (FRA)
Forwards: Yakubu Ayegbeni Everton (ENG), Chinedu Obasi Hoffenheim (GER), Obafemi Martins Wolfsburg (GER), Obinna Nsofor Malaga (SPA), John Utaka Portsmouth (ENG)
Osaze Odemwingie Lokomotiv (RUS)