How Nigeria Can Succeed in the World Cup

On Saturday 16th June at the Kaliningrad Stadium, Nigeria will kick off against Croatia to get their World Cup underway.

It will, of course, be the Super Eagles 6th World Cup tournament and third in succession. Before the Finals have started, Nigeria have been priced at odds of around 150/1, so you can guess that most bookies don’t expect them to win. However, plenty of fans reckon they could have a good tournament in Russia.

But, what would constitute a good World Cup for Nigeria? Arguably, improving on their best ever record of a Last 16 place would make it a good tournament for the Super Eagles and their fans. Here is how they could do it:

Keep it tight against Croatia in the opening game:

The format of the group stages means that you can be easily cut adrift after the opening game, so some kind of positive result is essential.

The good news for Nigeria is that Croatia sometimes struggle for goals, scoring just 14 in the qualifying games.

Nigeria are odds of 10/3 to win the game, with Croatia favourite at 17/20. However, the draw (23/10) looks achievable and would represent a satisfactory result for coach Salisu Yusuf.

Don’t underestimate Iceland:

Iceland has a population around 60 times smaller than Nigeria, but they have packed quite the punch in international football in recent years, notably against England at Euro 2016.

Nigeria should not take them lightly in the second group game. It might surprise you to learn that Betfred have put Iceland as favourites to win the match at 8/5. However, Nigeria, at odds of 9/5, have the weapons to hurt them.

Once again, they will have to keep it tight at the back and not allow Gylfi Sigurdsson to much time on the ball.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Don’t overestimate Argentina:

The final group game will be played against Argentina. While they boast the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, they have really struggled to play with a cohesive style in recent years.

Indeed, Nigeria have plenty of players like Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses who can unsettle a static Argentina defence.

Betfred have given huge odds of 11/2 for Nigeria to win, with the upset not being totally out of the question. Follow the link to enjoy Betfred betting offers, including free bets for the World Cup and other sports.

Don’t play passive football in Last 16:

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

If Nigeria can make it to the Last 16, they will play one of France, Peru, Australia or Denmark. Most Nigerians will remember the last World Cup when, despite having large periods of dominance, Nigeria crashed out to France 2-0 at this stage.

The problem was not one of effort, but more a need to play decisive football when in possession of the ball. You can get odds of 10/1 for Nigeria to reach the quarter finals, it would be heart-breaking to see them fail in the Last 16 for a 4th a time.

Keep the belief:

If Nigeria get to the quarters, they will likely come up against one of the best sides in the world. Depending on how the group stages go, that could be Brazil, Germany or Spain.

These games are often so tight – just look at Germany vs Algeria in the last World Cup – and what matters in the end is some conviction and confidence.

That gets the big teams through when they aren’t playing well. That has cost nations like Nigeria dearl many times in the past.

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