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Team Widget

Team Profile: Nigeria

GettyImagesNigeria made their first finals appearance at USA '94

Appearances at finals:
1994 - Second round
1998 - Second round
2002 - First round

Overall record at finals: Played 11, Won 4, Drawn 1, Lost 6.

Best performance: Second round in 1994 and 1998.

Most apearances at finals: Jay-Jay Okocha (1994, 1998, 2002) - 10.

Most goals at finals: Emmanuel Amuneke (1994), Daniel Amokachi (1994) - 2.

World Cup high: Beating Spain 3-2 at the 1998 finals. Mutiu Adepoju equalised after Fernando Hierro gave Spain the lead, but Raúl put Javier Clemente's side back in front. However, a resilient Nigeria performance was rewarded with goals from Garba Lawal and Sunday Oliseh as they sealed a famous win.

World Cup low: Being destroyed 4-1 by Denmark in the second round of the 1998 finals. After the impressive result against Spain, the 'Super Eagles' were taught a cruel lesson in the first knockout round by the 1992 European Championship winners, with a Tijani Babangida goal the only consolation.

World Cup legend: Jay-Jay "so good they named him twice" Okocha, who burst onto the international scene as a fresh-faced 20-year-old at the 1994 World Cup finals. Of Nigeria's 11 World Cup games, Okocha missed just one - their first ever - and entertained crowds in the USA, France and Japan/South Korea, captaining the side at the 2002 finals. Okocha dazzled, with his natural flair shining through on the big stage as he helped take Nigeria to the second round in both 1994 and 1998.

The story so far: Before qualifying for their first finals in 1994, Nigeria had come desperately close to qualifying on a number of occasions, including final-stage defeats to Morocco in 1970 qualifying, Tunisia in Egypt in 1978, Algeria in 1982 and fierce rivals Cameroon in 1990. But, in 1994, they made their World Cup bow and impressed, winning their group with wins against Bulgaria and Greece, and a narrow defeat to Argentina.

If reaching the second round in their debut finals wasn't impressive enough, the 'Super Eagles' were two minutes away from reaching the quarter-finals as they led 1-0 against Italy, but an equaliser from Roberto Baggio and then an extra-time winner from the forward knocked them out.

The 1998 finals saw Nigeria's most famous World Cup result, after the 'Super Eagles' twice came from behind to beat Spain 3-2 in their opening fixture. A win against Bulgaria and defeat to Paraguay followed but Nigeria won the group. However, their finals campaign ended in bitter disappointment after they exited at the hands of Denmark in the second round, crashing out 4-1.

In 2002, Nigeria were drawn in a tricky group with Argentina, England and Sweden. After a tight 1-0 loss to Argentina, Nigeria were 1-0 up against Sweden but ended up losing 2-1 before a spirited 0-0 draw in searing heat against Sven-Göran Eriksson's side left them with a solitary point at the bottom of the group. Nigeria missed out on a fourth consecutive finals appearance in 2006 after finishing second in qualifying to Angola.

Qualification: Nigeria left it late to narrowly scrape through to their fourth finals, though many were surprised at how they laboured after advancing from the opening qualifying round with a 100% record. South Africa, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea were beaten home and away as the 'Super Eagles' cruised through.

In the final qualifying round, Nigeria remained unbeaten, but draws against rivals Tunisia - home and away - and Mozambique looked to have ended their World Cup 2010 dreams. However, a dramatic 93rd-minute winner from Victor Obinna in their penultimate game against Mozambique kept their slim hopes alive and, when group leaders Tunisia suffered a shock loss to Mozambique in the final match, Nigeria came from behind to beat Kenya 3-2 in Nairobi to qualify against the odds.

Qualifying record (second round): P6, W6, D0, L0, F11, A1, Pts18.

Qualifying record (third round): P6, W3, D3, L0, F9, A4, Pts12.

Most appearances: Ikechukwu Uche, Peter Odemwingie, Vincent Enyeama (10).

Top goalscorer: Ikechukwu Uche (4).