2013 Africa Cup of Nations preview: Nigeria

January 14, 2013
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Nigeria celebrationAfter their shock omission from the 2012 tournament, Nigeria returns to the biggest stage looking for their third Africa Cup of Nations title. The atmosphere around the national team remains very poor, but the fans hope boss Stephen Keshi and his players will rise above problems and finally shine at a major tournament. The Super Eagles had no problems qualifying for the tournament finals, having recorded an 8-3 aggregate win over Liberia.

The team have been in fine form this season, having began the 2014 World Cup qualifiers with home win over Namibia that was followed by 1-1 draw in Malawi. Nigeria also played really well in warm-up matches, meaning they arrive in South Africa in good spirits. Levante in-form striker Obafemi Martins and West Brom star Peter Odemwingie have been surprise omissions, while the squad feature no less than six home-based players.

Nigeria AFCON squad

Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheba), Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers)

Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Braga), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce), Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag), Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars)

Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio), Obiora Nwankwo (Padova), Fegor Ogude (Valerenga), Reuben Gabriel (Kano Pillars)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Ikechukwu Uche (Villarreal), Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers), Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers).

Nigeria AFCON History

Nigeria currently have two Africa Cup of Nations trophies to their name, won in 1980 and 1994, but the Super Eagles have failed to make it to the final since. They have finished in third place in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010, but then surprisingly failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria hope to improve their record in South Africa, but reaching the final could prove to be a very difficult task.

Players to Watch

Chelsea duo John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are the most famous names on the team sheet, but it is the three players who ply their trade in Eastern Europe that are expected to make the biggest impact. CSKA Moscow winger Ahmed Musa arrives at the tournament in scintillating form and he is likely to prove a menace for the opposition defenders. Strikers Ideye Brown and Emmanuel Emenike have been scoring goals for fun this season, and they, too, can be expected to shine in South Africa.

Group Matches

Monday, January 21, 2013, v Burkina Faso (19:00 CET in Nelspruit) 1.7 4.0 6.0
Friday, January 25, 2013 v Zambia (16:00 CET in Nelspruit)
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 v Ethiopia (18:00 CET in Phokeng)


Nigeria arrives in South Africa with a star-studded squad, but strength in depth and good team spirit are obviously lacking. The likes of Moses, Musa and Brown should help the Super Eagles get past the group stage, but I seriously doubt individual quality alone can see them make it to the final stages. Nigeria are 1.25 (1/4) with Betfair to qualify from Group C, but they cannot be expected to climb to the podium for the fifth time in last 11 years.

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