Nigeria is rapidly evolving into one of the most promising nations in the football world. After their dominant performance in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers earlier in 2023, football fans have seen their potential as a growing force in the international football scene.
Read on to discover why the Super Eagles are being tapped as the new superpower in international football, extending their influence beyond their home region of Africa.
Nigeria has immense potential in the forward positions
Across every match for Nigeria, their forward depth is often talked about as one of the best in the world. They will use their strength to overpower defenders to keep scoring goals. Most players with those frames are usually seen as defenders but Nigeria has provided a system where these players can thrive in forward roles.
This Nigerian squad is filled with talented players who you’ll see draw plaudits from pundits, players, and even readers of the Sportsbet-io blog. Just take a look at the biggest names on the roster and you’ll why people are high on them:
- Victor Osimhen: Regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, he recently led Napoli to their first Serie A title in 36 years, scoring 26 goals in the process. His abilities extend beyond goal scoring as he also dished out four assists. Osimhen’s talents will be important for Nigeria as he’s their headline talent who can carry Nigeria to the promised land.
- Victor Boniface: Another rising star for Nigeria, Boniface has burst into the European football scene by using his immense strength to rid himself of defenders. In just seven matches from the 2023/24 Bundesliga season, he has seven goals. As a classic target man, he will prove invaluable when Nigeria needs to score.
- Gift Orban: True to his name, Orban was gifted with an abundance of talent. He was relatively unknown before 2023 but when he joined Genk, his name continued to become more popular. In the Belgian Pro League, Orban has played in 16 games so far and scored 15 goals.
The Nigerian squad thrives on physicality
Nigeria’s forwards already thrived with physicality due to how they can bully defenders. That is also the same for Nigeria’s centre-backs because they come into every match looking to battle for the ball. They love to bump the opposing forwards away from the spaces where they can score.
Nigeria’s defence is superb
Nigeria strengthened their all-around game with their progress in developing the defence. With a good mix of veterans and promising talented youngsters, they’re prepared for their next AFCON run. Here are the best defenders on the Nigerian squad:
- Calvin Bassey: One of the most hard-working defenders in Nigeria, Bassey has intense physicality and stamina which pays off well when facing speedy wingers or bulky forwards. Bassey can play both left-back and centre-back which cements him as a valuable piece for Nigeria.
- William Troost-Ekong: As the team captain, Troost-Ekong is superb in his defence and serves as a strong leader for the Super Eagles. His unwavering self-belief and ability to instil confidence in his fellow players contribute to Nigeria’s reputation as a formidable opponent on the field.
José Peseiro is bringing the best out of Nigeria
In May 2022, Peseiro joined the Nigerian national team with the promise of more offensively-inclined football. The Super Eagles realised their potential in this style of football and they wanted to try it with Peseiro.
Peseiro’s presence on the Nigerian squad is valuable. He’s a veteran who serves as a mentor who empowers his young players to play with more energy on both offence and defence. Even the older players will benefit from the positive energy, making the Super Eagles a tough matchup for any team.
The 4-2-3-1 formation is working
The 4-2-3-1 formation is Peseiro’s favourite as it brings a team’s offence to another level. They will mostly focus on creating chances for the striker which in this case is Osimhen. Having him as the centre-forward for this team is crucial to their success because he just has to overpower his defenders and score goals when he has space.
The rest of the team will battle for the ball, including the three forwards behind Osimhen. The back-line is pretty secure with two centre-backs and full-backs on each side. While they’re getting stronger on offence, they also have to ensure they’re improving the midfield.
A double pivot in the midfield fits the team’s profile
Nigeria’s physical brand of football is present in defence but also in midfield. They need two midfielders to cover the defensive issues that an uber-attacking side like Nigeria has. At the same time, deep-lying playmakers are in these positions, so they need to maximise both Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo.
Nigeria’s recent matches prove they’re Africa’s best
In the recently concluded AFCON qualification, Nigeria’s dominance was evident. Barring the 0-1 loss to Guinea-Bissau, the Super Eagles continued to play at a high level, particularly in offence. Their win over São Tomé and Principe was an amazing performance as Nigeria scored six goals while keeping a clean sheet.
Such performance is what Nigeria needs to succeed as a top team. They already have the potential and all the makings of a top-tier side but they still need to prove themselves at a tournament like AFCON. Stay ready with Nigeria’s run at AFCON through the Sportsbet-io blog while getting a wager in if you want to.