FT World Cup 2018: Africa Has Arrived - Nigeria

In the history of the FIFA World Cup, no African team has ever reached the semi-finals. Ghana was agonizingly close in South Africa 2010 but crashed out after Luis Suarez’s heroics in goal, in place for a goalkeeper who was still in the game. Senegal’s Lions of Teranga had a great run in the 2002 finals before losing to Turkey, 1-0 after extra time. Can this year be a historical one for Africa?

The Naija boys have done so well in claiming the unofficial World Cup fashion awards by rocking a designer Nike outfit that has left everyone in the soccer world talking. It also sold out and generated millions for the West African nation. As if that was not enough, the Super Eagles consolidated their position as the best dressed by wearing an impeccable traditional outfit that effortlessly differentiated them from the rest of the suit and tie wearing nations touching down in Russia. Representing a nation of more than 180 million people, they inevitably got most of the media attention in the build-up to the finals in Russia, receiving both “blessings and curses”. Will they really be able to deal with all the pressure and make their killer outfits count for something?

How high will the Super Eagles fly in Russia? Hopefully they can do enough to save themselves from the blushes of being known as little more than the best dressed and underwhelming performers.

I think it’s going to be really tough, but they will manage to do just enough to at least reach the knockout stages. Nigeria will be wary of Lionel Messi and Argentina having faced them in 2002, 2010 and 2014 finals. Although they lost 1-0, 1-0 and 3-2 in all occasions, respectively, they will be optimistic about getting a result this time around. They recently got one over them in a friendly played in November 2017, winning 4-2 and will be confident of getting a result on the 26th of June. As for the challenge of Croatia, it will really be a game of two halves but I am confident that Victor Moses and Alex Iwobi can work something out to expose the defense that conceded an avoidable goal against Senegal in a World Cup warm-up friendly. It should also be said that captain John Obi Mikel and Wilfried Ndidi will really have to be on their A-game as they will battle some of the best midfielders alive in the form of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. As for their second group D match against the fairytale itself, Iceland, if they do the basics right I do not see them losing that match.

Here are my group D final standings;

Argentina (1st); Nigeria (2nd); Croatia (3rd); Iceland (4th).

What are your predictions? Let us know in the comment box below.