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Goalkeepers: Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United), Augustine Ejide (Hapoel Be'er Sheva), Vincent Enyeama (Lille)

Defenders: Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor), Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC), Joseph Yobo (Norwich City)

Midfielders: Ramon Azeez (Almeria), Mikel Obi (Chelsea), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio), Gabriel Reuben (Beveren), Michael Uchebo (Cercle Brugge), Ejike Uzoenyi (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Forwards: Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United), Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce), Babatunde Michel (Volyn), Victor Moses (Liverpool), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Uche Nwofor (Herenveen), Peter Odemwingie (Stoke City)


Team ProfileEdit

Nigeria come into the FIFA World Cup in remarkably good shape given the chaos that followed their last appearance in the competition.

Under Lars Lagerback, Nigeria endured a miserable outing in South Africa four years ago as they finished bottom of Group B with just a point to their name and things worsened for the Super Eagles in the aftermath.

To begin with, the country's president Goodluck Jonathan banned the team from international competition due to their performance at the World Cup.

While his ban was not upheld, it brought action from FIFA due to their unhappiness at political intervention, as the governing body applied an indefinite ban on the country's national side at the start of October that year.

That too eventually fell by the wayside but life remained difficult for Nigeria fans as they saw their team fail to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 under the stewardship of Samson Siasia.

As Siasia apologised for the team's failings shortly after their damaging draw to Guinea, Nigerian football was at a low ebb and few supporters would have envisaged their side going to the 2014 World Cup at all - never mind being in the shape they are under former player Stephen Keshi.

Not only has Keshi harnessed the quality available to him, he has managed to create a positive atmosphere within the Super Eagles camp, bringing a number of important players back on board.

John Obi Mikel is one player who has not always enjoyed the best reputation with fans and staff of Nigeria, while Peter Odemwingie has endured public fall-outs with a host of coaches - Keshi included.

Yet both will go to Brazil.

Record appearance-maker Joseph Yobo has also been recalled, having been absent from the squad for more than a year after Nigeria won the Africa Cup of Nations in February 2013.

If Keshi, the only Nigerian to win the Cup of Nations as a player and a coach, can continue to keep the peace in his squad, then progression from the group stage - for the first time since 1998 - appears a realistic proposition.

Compared to the likes of Odemwingie and Yobo, Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo is a relative newcomer to international football.

However, he was part of the team that became African champions last year and is eager to help make amends for Nigeria's performance at the previous World Cup.

"I remember watching the World Cup in South Africa. It was disappointing that we didn't come out of the group in 2010," Omeruo said.

"We'll have to play for the Nigerian fans because it was a massive welcome when we won the Africa Cup of Nations. They showed us how much they love football and how much they are behind us, so we have to play for them.

"(Keshi) tries to psyche us up as much as possible. As well as that, he is a father who advises us. He's a really good man to play under."

They may be the lowest-ranked African side heading to Brazil but, provided Keshi can maintain harmony in the camp, Nigeria could continue their resurgence and help banish the memories of 2010.

Player Profile (John Obi Mikel)Edit

Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: April 22, 1987
Club: Chelsea
International Debut: v Libya (August 17, 2005)
World Cup Appearances: 0
World Cup Goals: 0

Having been the subject of much hype as a young prospect, John Obi Mikel may never have a better chance to make certain of a place in Nigeria's proud footballing folklore.

The 27-year-old has been a regular under a succession of managers at Chelsea, but has not enjoyed as much continuity at international level due to disagreements with coaches and injury setbacks.

However, he will be looked upon to play a key role at the FIFA World Cup for a Nigeria side that head into the tournament with reason for optimism.

Not only did they win the Africa Cup of Nations last year, but Mikel was voted the continent's second-best player in 2013 behind Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast.

That marked a notable achievement, given that no Nigerian had earned a top-three finish in voting for the award since Jay-Jay Okocha in 2004.

After years of struggling to live up to the price tag that accompanied his move to Chelsea from Norwegian outfit Lyn, Mikel appears to have finally blossomed.

He will doubtless be eager to shine in Brazil and show why his current club battled Manchester United for his signature as a teenager.

Despite winning plenty of silverware since his controversial move to Stamford Bridge, which saw Chelsea reach a settlement with Lyn and United, the Africa Cup of Nations remains the only trophy Mikel has collected on international duty.

While Nigeria, who have been grouped with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran, face a stiff task to reach the latter stages of the World Cup, Mikel can play a key role by dominating midfield as he did against the likes of Toure and Ghana's Michael Essien in South Africa last year.

He has not always been the most popular figure among Nigeria fans, with particularly negative headlines surrounding his suspension from the national team in 2007 after he pulled out of a match against Uganda.

Mikel, who cited a hamstring injury as the reason for his withdrawal, has been content to let his football do the talking since Stephen Keshi took over as coach in November 2011.

Yet Keshi recently admitted that he very nearly left the player out in the cold following his appointment.

"His agent called and I refused to talk to him. So Mikel called back again and I said 'let's talk'," Keshi told Al Jazeera.

"At that point, almost 80 per cent of Nigerians didn't want to see him in the national squad. And I told him that.

"But I also took the risk and he agreed to the conditions. Ever since then, he's been a great professional with a great attitude in training. He's a different Mikel and I told him to enjoy his game and have fun."

After helping Nigeria become champions of Africa, Mikel once again has the chance to fulfil the potential that saw him named the second-best player at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2005, behind Lionel Messi.

And should the dynamic midfielder prosper in Brazil, Nigeria could yet emulate their achievement in reaching the last 16 in 1994 and 1998.

News SourcesEdit

Daily Independent:

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