The Super Eagles will fly out of their Avita Resort in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Austria to Russia on Monday for the 21st FIFA World Cup finals – their sixth appearance in seven finals since making a memorable debut in the USA in 1994.
Since emerging from an appropriately –styled ‘Group of Death’ in the African qualifying series, becoming the first African team to reach the finals in Russia, the Eagles have played against Argentina, Poland, Serbia, DR Congo, England and Czech Republic in friendlies, winning two, drawing one and losing three.
Nigeria’s first match of the finals is against Croatia on Saturday, with the Eagles logging a balanced record of having won their opening match at the World Cup on two occasions, drawn once and lost twice. On the three occasions they have not lost their opening match (1994, 1998, 2014), the Eagles have progressed to the Round of 16.
An underwhelming recent record, being the lowest –ranked team in Group D and the lowest –ranked African team in the finals, plus a recent tag by FIFA as mere ‘perennial World Cup appearance –makers’ all tend to project the Eagles as a side waiting to be rolled over.
That would be the biggest mistake of the so-called big teams.