Over the years Nigeria’s Super Eagles have posted some truly memorable World Cup results. At USA’94, Clemens Westerhof’s Green Eagles demolished a Hristo Stoichkov led Bulgaria 3-0, before dispatching Greece.
Four years on, at France ’98, an upset 3-2 victory over Spain was followed by a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria.
Victories then dried up until Brazil 2014 when a 1-0 win over Bosnia helped Africa’s most populous nation reach the Round Of 16.
It’s against such a background that I hesitate to refer to Friday’s 2-0 triumph as the Super Eagles greatest.
But it does run Nigeria’s five previous World Cup victories close.
In taming Euro 2016 quarter finalists Iceland, Gernot Rohr’s Eagles were controlled, measured and clinical; Leicester City striker Ahmed Musa the assassin in chief.
Helped by a switch to the malleable 3-5-2 formation, the former African champions gave themselves a strong chance of progressing to the knock out rounds by seizing midfield control.
Skipper John Obi Mikel was transformed by dropping into a deep lying playmaking role, a position he occupied in ten trophy laden seasons at London club Chelsea. Needless to point out, he was helped by Leicester City strong man Wilfred Ndidi and Las Palmas’ emerging midfield dynamo Etebo.
If change of formation to 3-5-2 was a masterstroke, coach Rohr’s introduction of the pacey Ahmed Musa was the real trump card. His direct running and close dribbling was a constant thorn in the bedraggled Icelandic backsides. Ahmed is now Nigeria’s all time leading goal scorer. This should translate into an automatic starting place in the crunch Group Of Death duel with Argentina.
Argentina will be desperate but the Super Eagles have nothing to be afraid of. After all, they were 4-2 winners over Lionel Messi-less Albicete side less than three months ago.