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Africa's great hope
Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and can boast more than 200 professional footballers scattered around the world, plying their trade across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. They have an incredible pool of talent to draw upon and a side now beginning to reap the benefits of a policy of blooding young players when they featured in their first FIFA World Cup in the USA in 1994.
From that squad, the likes of Sunday Oliseh, "Jay Jay" Okocha, Finidi George and Victor Ikpeba are likely to return for their third FIFA World Cup ,the wiser and more confident for their experience. Add to the mix the enigmatic skills of Nwankwo Kanu, the proven goal scoring ability of Victor Agali and the tigerish defending of Celestine Babayaro and Nigeria have the capacity to reach new heights.
The Super Eagles have long been regarded as Africa's best hope for FIFA World Cup success and on both their previous appearances in the final phase, they have made it past the first round only then to have their hopes thwarted. Their ambitions will be set higher this time, particularly after their fight-back from a seemingly hopeless position in their African qualifying group.
Team coach Shaibu Amodu, who had on two previous occasions stepped into the job in a caretaker capacity, has been promised a more permanent position,but his future will depend on just how the Super Eagles perform on the world stage in Korea and Japan.
Significant past players:
Muda Lawal, Segun Odegbami, Rashidi Yekini, Stephen Keshi, Daniel Amokachi
-- FIFA World Cup finals qualification 1994, 1998
-- Champion African Cup of Nations 1980, 1994
-- Qualification 1963, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 2000 African Cup of Nations
-- Champion Olympic Games 1996
-- Champion All Africa Games 1973
-- Champion FIFA under-17 World Championship 1993
-- Champion FIFA under-16 World Championship 1985
-- Champion African under-20 Championship 1983 1985, 1987, 1989
-- Champion African under-17 Championship 2001
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