GROUP F
Nigeria

THE 60-SECOND OVERVIEW

Whenever expectations are high for the Super Eagles, self-combustion almost always seems to be close by. Four previous World Cup appearances have only reaped two second-round exits. The first, a gut-wrenching elimination masterminded by the Divine Ponytail on what was acknowledged to be the ‘Golden Generation’. The second, expectations of a quarter-final against Brazil summarily extinguished by clinical Denmark in a 4-1 rout.

So it’s perhaps understandable that fans and media are trying to temper their hopes as the team head to South America this summer. They may even believe that some sort of “reverse hex” might let the side surpass their previous record, reach at least the quarters, then take it from there…

THE DREAM

"Like you did in February 2013, when against all expectations, you made all of us happy by bringing the Nations Cup home, you will do it again in Brazil by the Grace of God!"

The loud chants of 'Amen' that followed that supplication by the leader of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, Rafiu Ladipo, shows that irrespective of tempered expectations across the country, hope springs eternal that this version of Super Eagles could just be the one that does the implausible.

THE NIGHTMARE

An opening fixture against supposed weaklings Iran would seem to be the perfect way to get the tournament off to a good start. But great expectations almost always begets overconfidence in Nigeria – which in turn spawns disaster.

Fans are counting how many goals the Super Eagles can put away against Iran to make their game against Bosnia easier. Actually lose to Iran, and they may as well head straight home.

THE STATS
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PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

HAVE AN EYE-WATERING HAIRCUT: AHMED MUSA

The CSKA man has sported some colourfully dubious styles in the past. The World Cup is the right stage for him to assault our eyes even more.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

SEE NO ACTION: CHIGOZIE AGBIM

Third goalkeepers rarely do, but after some horror shows for Nigeria, most fans would invade the pitch and don the gloves themselves before they'd let boss StepheKeshi throw him on.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

DO AN ON-PITCH STRIP-TEASE: VINCENT ENYEMA

He's crazy like that. Vince promised to take off his shorts if Nigeria won the Nations Cup; in the end, he lost himself in the moment and didn't do it – but he did try (and fail) to lift the ref at the final whistle.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 1994, now-boss Stephen Keshi, then a player, did a commercial for Bournvita – which he pronounced as “Born-vira”. The ad was pulled before it was even broadcast.

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The champions of Africa are trying not to get too excited - they've been hurt before - but would be irked not to get past the group stage.