Nigeria will be aiming to duplicate its run to the Round of 16 four years ago when they travel to Russia for their third straight FIFA World Cup appearance. The Super Eagles kept clean sheets in two of their three group stage matches at the 2014 World Cup before falling just short of a trip to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 Round of 16 loss to France in a match they largely dominated.
Second only to Cameroon as the African national side with the most World Cup experience, the Super Eagles’ success at Brazil 2014 also marked their third trip to the Round of 16 in five World Cup appearances since 1994.
The squad also raised the hopes of the nation’s soccer fans with an impressive 1-0 win over 10th-ranked Poland in a March 23 friendly, which also lifted the Super Eagles five spots on the FIFA World Ranking to their current position at No. 47.
Nigeria’s Odds to Win World Cup: +20000
Nigeria prepares for Russia 2018 as a lengthy +20000 wager on the World Cup futures. The Super Eagles’ odds are tempered by their draw into a group alongside two-time World Cup champion Argentina.
However, the squad could be poised to surprise once again at Russia 2018 after following up a first-place finish in CAF World Cup qualifying with an impressive showing in this year’s African Nations Championship, where they finished as runners-up for the first time in the national football team’s history.
Nigeria’s Odds to Win Group D: +1000
The Super Eagles will face a tough road during the group stage after drawing into a group alongside powerhouse Argentina, a scrappy squad from Croatia, and the tournament debutants from Iceland, and are currently pegged as a long +1000 wager to finish atop the Group D table.
This year’s tournament also marks the fourth time since 2002 that Nigeria will face Argentina in group stage action. The Nigerians fell to defeat in each of their previous three World Cup meetings with the Argentines, with each of those contests settled by a single goal.
However, the Super Eagles stunned their South American rivals in a friendly matchup last November, erasing a 2-0 first-half deficit with four straight goals to take away a 4-2 win in their first-ever victory over Argentina.
Nigeria has never faced Croatia or Iceland on the pitch, but will likely have to post at least one victory in group stage clashes with their European opponents to have any chance of advancing beyond the group stage and paying out on +220 odds in World Cup betting.
Nigeria’s Best World Cup Bets
With Nigeria’s record of success in group stage action at the World Cup, it is hard to ignore the +350 odds of the squad reaching the Round of 16 before getting eliminated.
The Super Eagles also offer some intriguing World Cup betting options on the game line odds, most notably in their June 18 matchup with Iceland, in which they are pegged as surprising +170 underdogs.
Iceland is likely to emerge as the darling debutant of this year’s tournament after following up their run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals by edging out Croatia for top spot on the Group I table in UEFA World Cup qualifying. However, the Nordic squad recorded just two wins in six subsequent friendlies, including lopsided losses to Mexico and Peru last March.
A stingy Nigerian defense has also limited opponents to fewer than two goals in nine of 12 outings since June 2017, while keeping clean sheets on seven occasions, making the UNDER an attractive totals betting option in the Super Eagles’ dates with both Iceland and Croatia.
Nigeria’s Players to Watch: Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, John Obi Mikel
While international football fans may be most familiar with Nigerian midfielders Victor Moses and Alex Iwobi, who have each spent several years playing in the Premier League, Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel is credited with providing both a steadying influence and leadership on and off the pitch during the squad’s march toward a World Cup berth.
Nigeria’s Road to Russia
The Super Eagles easily qualified for the third round of CAF World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 aggregate victory over Swaziland, and had little difficulty clinching a berth at Russia 2018 by finishing atop the Group B table in third-round qualifying with a 4-1-1 win-loss-draw record. Their only loss came by forfeit in their qualification final when an ineligible player facing a one-game ban took the field during a 1-1 draw with Algeria. Nigeria would forfeit the single point earned in that contest, with the match instead getting recorded as a 3-0 loss.
|16||Daniel Akpeyi||GK||Chippa United||7|
|23||Francis Uzoho||GK||Deportivo La Coruña||6|
|3||Elderson Echiejile||DEF||Cercle Brugge||62|
|6||Leon Balogun||DEF||Brighton & Hove Albion||19|
|21||Tyronne Ebuehi||DEF||ADO Den Haag||7|
|4||Wilfred Ndidi||MID||Leicester City||17|
|10||Mikel John Obi||MID||Tianjin Teda||85|
|19||John Ogu||MID||Hapoel Be’er Sheva||20|
|7||Ahmed Musa||FWD||Leicester City||72|
|9||Odion Ighalo||FWD||Changchun Yatai||19|
|14||Kelechi Iheanacho||FWD||Leicester City||18|