In a matter of weeks, the Super Eagles will join other countries to participate in the FIFA World Cup, their sixth appearance at the mundial since making a debut in 1994.
The Nigerian team, formerly known as Green Eagles, surprised the footballing world in its World Cup debut by defeating a star-studded Bulgarian squad with big names like Nasko Petkov Sirakov, Ivaylo Stoimenov Yordanov, and Hristo Stoichov.
On that fateful day, the Eagles were simply brilliant and unstoppable, and Rashidi Yekini scored the country’s first ever World Cup goal, which spurred the team on to record a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Bulgaria.
The win earned the Nigerian team the title of underdogs which were capable of going all the way to the final — but it never happened.
Nigeria were close to making it through to the quarter-final, but a careless defensive mix-up allowed Roberto Baggio equalise for the Italians. Baggio was also responsible for Italy’s winning goal courtesy of a late penalty.
At the time, the Super Eagles were ranked fifth in the FIFA rankings, the highest position ever achieved by an African football team.
Currently ranked 47, the Super Eagles are in a very tricky group at Russia 2018.
The three-time African champions will take on Croatia in their first game, and will subsequently take on debutants Iceland before meeting Argentina.
Nigeria’s game against Argentina is the sixth time both sides will be meeting at the World Cup.
The perennial rivals first met in 1994 and subsequently in 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014.