As the year 2019 runs to an end, it is also noteworthy that it is the end of yet another decade of beautiful football moments. Between the year 2010 and 2019, three FIFA World Cup tournaments, six African Cup of Nations championships and a host of other qualifying matches, friendly ties and Confederations Cup games have been played, some of which saw the Super Eagles produced some fine displays.
Soccernet Nigeria brings you the ten most memorable matches played by our darling national team within the last ten years.
Argentina 2 – 4 Nigeria
In preparation for Russia 2018, both the Albiceleste and Super Eagles met on a mild, mid-November evening for a friendly encounter in the Russian city of Krasnodar.
Even though the Argentines were missing the services of the talismanic Lionel Messi, the two-time World Cup winners quickly went two goals up within the first 40 minutes thanks to strikes from Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero.
Nigeria’s fans were getting worried of their team suffering a heavy defeat but Gernot Rohr’s men, who went unbeaten throughout their World Cup qualifying campaign, refused to surrender and Iheanacho halved the deficit just before the break with a sumptuous 25-yard free-kick.
Iheanacho then found an unmarked Iwobi who equalised from close range on 52 minutes, with Amkar Perm defender Idowu drilling Nigeria into a 3-2 lead moments later.
Argentina were in disarray and just when they went so close to grabbing an equalizer, Nigeria went up the other end and smashed home their fourth goal when Iwobi grabbed his second goal on 73 minutes, taking a pass from Ahmed Musa and hammering home to seal just a second win over Argentina in eight meetings.
Nigeria 2 – 0 Iceland
The Super Eagles return to the World Cup in Russia began on a sour note after falling to an opening day defeat in the hands of Croatia. A win was needed badly in the second game against another European side, Iceland, with Argentina waiting in the final group match. And a win Nigeria got.
Ahmed Musa, restored to the starting line-up after missing the opener, was the hero on the day.
With Nigeria’s World Cup hopes hanging by a thread after a goalless first half in Volgograd, the then Leicester forward struck a volleyed opener four minutes after the restart and further repaid boss Gernot Rohr’s faith with a fine second, 15 minutes from time.
Gylfi Sigurdsson looked set to give Iceland a late lifeline when Alfred Finnbogason earned a VAR-awarded penalty, but the Everton playmaker ballooned his 83rd-minute effort over the bar.
The win would ultimately count for nothing as an Argentina victory in the last group match sent Nigeria on the way home after another failed World Cup attempt.
Nigeria 3-2 Cameroon
Eternal rivals, Cameroon and Nigeria met in the Round of 16 at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Egypt.
Even though the Super Eagles qualified as group winners and the Indomitable Lions made it to the knockout stage as one of the best third-placed teams, there was no favourite for this game, as with any game between these two.
The encounter, as expected, started as a physical contest but Nigeria had the better chances in the opening minutes and it was no surprise when Nigeria’s name was the first to appear on the scoreboard after Odion Ighalo capitalized on a loose ball in the box to scramble home the opener.
After breaking the deadlock, however, Nigeria lost control of the game and Clarence Seedorf’s men started applying pressure for an equaliser, which finally paid off in the 41st minute when Stephane Bahoken slotted Bassogog’s cross past Daniel Akpeyi.
Moments before the interval, the situation turned sour for Nigeria as Njie fired the Indomitable Lions ahead for the first time that afternoon.
The next goal was crucial and it arrived, in favour of the Nigerians, just past the hour mark.
Ighalo it was who inspired the comeback after turning a pass from Ahmed Musa into the back of the net to set up a thrilling finale.
Three minutes later the Super Eagles were back in front and it was all thanks to Alex Iwobi, who kept his cool before applying a sweet finish to a fine assist from Ighalo.
While the Indomitable Lions worked to fight back, the Super Eagles held their ground to advance to the last eight.
Nigeria 4-0 Cameroon
Aside from two 6-1 thrashings of Liberia and Tahiti, this was Nigeria’s biggest competitive win of the last decade and it came against no other foe but eternal rivals, Cameroon.
It was not a friendly tie but a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifying game with a win certain to edge Nigeria closer to a sixth World Cup appearance.
The Indomitable Lions started ever so brightly but after the visitors failed to convert any of their chances, Nigeria grew in confidence and it was no surprise when former Granada striker Odion Ighalo latched onto a loose ball, shook off his defender and unleashed an accurate left-foot strike to open the home side’s account and from then on there was no turning back for the Super Eagles.
John Obi Mikel sent the Uyo fans wild when he put the home side two goals up at the close of the half, being alert to fire into the roof of the Cameroon net from a corner.
Victor Moses and Moses Simon expertly linked up throughout the game and the pair were instrumental in the third goal as the then Chelsea player slotted passed Ondoa, in Cameroon’s goal.
Soon after, Moses turned provider for the fourth with a pin-point delivery onto the head of Kelechi Iheanacho to seal a memorable evening for Nigerian football.
Nigeria 2 – 1 Ivory Coast
A Didier Drogba-inspired Ivory Coast, the highest-ranked side in Africa at the time, were the clear favourites when they faced Nigeria at the quarterfinal stage of the 2013 African Cup of Nations.
Coach Stephen Keshi had been widely criticized for departing for the tournament with a largely experimental squad and when pitted against one of the tournament’s favourites, it appeared as though it was the end of the road for the young coach.
However, Super Eagles striker Emmanuel Emenike didn’t read the script as he opened the scoring just before half-time, smashing a thunderous effort past Boubacar Barry in the Ivorian goal.
But the Elephants had classy stars littered all over the pitch and shortly after the break, midfielder Cheick Tiote dragged the Elephants back on levelled terms after heading home from Didier Drogba’s free-kick.
Still, the Super Eagles did not despair and their winner arrived when little-known Sunday Mba sealed Nigeria’s win with a shot deflected in off Sol Bamba.
The result pushed Nigeria through to their fifth semi-final in seven Nations Cup appearances, while sending Didier Drogba into early international retirement.
Nigeria 1 – 0 Burkina Faso
Coach Stephen Keshi’s men had wrought the impossible by defeating Africa’s number one team, Ivory Coast, in the quarterfinals and had avoided a potential banana skin against Mali in the semifinals, but there was no glory yet as the Stallions stood strong on the path to a third AFCON triumph for the Super Eagles.
But there was to be no heartbreak for Nigerians as their darling Super Eagles dominated the encounter and made the breakthrough just before half-time when that man again, Sunday Mba clipped the ball over Mohamed Koffi and then volleyed into the far corner.
Burkina Faso almost equalised when Wilfried Sanou forced a fingertip save from goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama but there was to be no other goal as Nigeria were once again crowned the champions of Africa.
It was a win that was fully deserved for Nigeria and coach Stephen Keshi, who became only the second man to lift the AFCON trophy as a player and as a coach after captaining the Super Eagles to their second title triumph nearly 20 years earlier.
Nigeria 3 – 1 Algeria
Super Eagles’ ties against the Desert Warriors are often closely fought battles but this one was an exception as Nigeria made a clear statement of their intent to participate at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Sitting pretty at the top of Group B, the West Africans hosted their North African brothers in Uyo and served them a cold dish of defeat.
Two goals from Victor Moses – the first, a ferocious strike past goalkeeper Raid M’Bolhi, just after 25 minutes – and another effort from Job Obi Mikel were all the Super Eagles needed to tear apart the visitors at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
Mali 1 – 4 Nigeria
After a massive win over tournament favourites Ivory Coast, Nigeria went into the Mali tie in the semifinal with the confidence of giants where they mauled the Malians to gain passage to their first Africa Cup of Nations final in 13 years.
Mali boasted the incredible talents of Barcelona’s Seydou Keita in their ranks but the pace of the Nigerian attack troubled their opponents’ defense all day.
Defender Elderson Echiejile opened the scoring, heading home a Victor Moses cross before Brown Ideye bundled past Mali keeper Mamadou Samassa.
The Super Eagles made it three with Emmanuel Emenike’s shot deflecting in off Mali midfielder Momo Sissoko to complete a spectacular first half for coach Stephen Keshi’s side.
And there was still time for substitute Ahmed Musa to stroke home Nigeria’s fourth before Cheick Diarra grabbed a consolation for the Eagles of Mali.
Nigeria 6 – 1 Tahiti
As champions of Africa, the Super Eagles were invited to the Confederations Cup tournament in preparation for the 2014 World Cup.
Placed in a group that had Uruguay and Spain, it was evident that Nigeria had to pull their weight against the minnows to record a big win.
But with Tahiti having arrived the Confederations Cup with a squad that was so inexperienced some of them did not have jobs let alone professional contracts, a resounding Nigerian win was always on the cards and so it played out, as the African champions strolled to a 6-1 victory.
They were three up after 25 minutes – AC Milan’s Nnamdi Oduamadi scoring the first two instalments of his hat-trick following an early own goal from Nicolas Vallar – before the most popular goal of the night from Jonathan Tehau saw Tahiti make it 3-1 in the 59th minute.
But, for all Tahiti’s commendable spirit, their ball retention was poor and their defending dire, meaning Nigeria had three further goals to come – from Elderson Echiejile, Oduamadi and another own goal from Tehau – as time and again they found themselves free in the area.
Brazil 1 – 1 Nigeria
After a cracking 2-2 draw with Ukraine in September, Nigeria were in high spirits when the Brazil tie was announced for October in Singapore. But with Neymar, Coutinho and several world-class stars expected to be on parade for the five-time world champions, another easy victory for the Selecao was widely predicted.
However, Gernot Rohr’s men were on a mission and after weathering the expected early storm, the three-time African champions took the lead in the 35th minute when Joe Aribo found space in a packed penalty box to rifle in a low shot and grab his second goal in two international appearances.
A momentary loss of concentration, though, allowed Brazil to equalise three minutes into the second half when Casemiro fired home from close range after he was the quickest to react when a Marquinhos header came back off the woodwork.
Casemiro later smacked a header off the bar and Coutinho should have scored a cut back with five minutes remaining but the Super Eagles held on superbly to claim their first positive result again Brazil’s senior team.