Nigeria Team - 2014 World Cup Betting
Best Finish: Last 16, 1994, 1998
Manager: Stephen Keshi
Captain: Vincent Enyeama
Key Player: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea)
Group F: With Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iran
Things have not been easy on Nigerian manager Stephen Keshi since he's had some problems with his own soccer federation, including not being paid for months and some dilemmas regarding players. Nevertheless, he led this team through CAF qualifying rounds with ease. They finished undefeated with a 3-3-0 (W-D-L) record in pool play while facing Kenya, Malawi and Namibia. From here, they defeated Ethiopia 4-1 on the aggregate playoff score.
It seems that Keshi has done a good job of guiding this team to the 2014 World Cup, given that he doesn't have a wealth of top-tier players – unlike the team's golden era in the mid-1990s. However, Nigeria does have some talent, beginning with John Obi Mikel. A terrific athlete who now shines for Chelsea, Mikel displays both defensive and attacking attributes. The midfielder is excellent at stopping the opposition's attack, then quickly launching a counter strike for the team's front line. Speaking of the front line, Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses will also be important to the attack, as they scored three and two goals, respectively, during qualifiers.
The aforementioned youth movement has left the back line with some concerns. This didn't really surface during qualifying matches, as the Nigerians gave up just three goals in six regular matches, and only one more in the two-legged playoff with Ethiopia. However, Nigeria will be facing far more elite offensive squads in Argentina, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The big key for Nigeria will be how their younger full backs and midfielders mature. Assuming the defense holds up and Mikel continues playing at a high level, it's not inconceivable for this team to move on to the knockout stage for the first time since 1998.