Nigeria’s football history at the FIFA World Cup have had lots of ups and downs after making a historical six appearances at the FIFA World Cup with her first being at the USA 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Since making six appearances, Nigeria have had only three managers who qualified for the FIFA World Cup lead her to the World Cup while reasons for the sack of the three who qualified her are tied around the inability of the coach who qualified her to lead the team to World Cup.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria under Jose Peseiro are currently underperforming after they struggled to secure a 1-1 draw in their World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe respectively. The competence and capability of the Portuguese manager is becoming doubtful despite relying heavily on foreign based players.
While some fans have lost hope about his competence and ability to qualify Nigeria to the World Cup, another school of thought believe that even if he eventually qualifies Nigeria to the World Cup, he should be disengaged and a more competent manager hired to do that.
However, Sports Intelligence Magazine looks critically at all the managers who have qualified Nigeria to the FIFA World Cup and also pay attention to those who accomplished such task but were denied an opportunity to lead the team to the World Cup.
CLEMENCE WESTERHOF – 1994
Arguably Nigeria’s most successful manager in history. Despite failing to qualify Nigeria to the Italian 1990 FIFA World Cup, he rose from that failure and qualified Nigeria to her first ever World Cup at the USA 1994, where he also led the Eagles to the tournament and reached the knockout stage. Till date Nigeria is yet to surpass that record.
PHILLIPE TROUSSIER- 1998
French man Phillipe Troussier was the second manager to qualify Nigeria to the World Cup at the France 1998 World Cup. The French man who inherited the Atanta 1996 Olympic Winning team and a crop of other players from the 1994 squad qualified Nigeria with ease, and was looking forward to leading Nigeria to his country (France) to become the second French manager at that World Cup. Sadly, he was disengaged by the NFA who felt he was not capable to lead the team despite qualifying the team. The NFA then hired Bora Miltunovic to lead the team due to his World Cup experience with three other countries before then.
AMODU SHUAIBU- 2002 & 2010
Amodu Shuaibu of blessed memory is the first ever indigenous manager to qualify Nigeria to the World Cup and till date remains the only manager to qualify Nigeria to two different World Cups. He qualified Nigeria to her third World Cup in 2002, but was disengaged for technical deficiency during the qualifiers. He was replaced with Onigbinde who eventually led the team but the team recorded one of her woeful World Cup performances.
After Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Shuaibu was tried again ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and he successfully qualified Nigeria for the World Cup. For the second time, Shuaibu was sacked for the same reason why he was sacked in 2002 and eventually replaced with Swedish manager Lars Lagerback . Lagerback led Nigeria to the World Cup but Nigeria failed to go beyond the group stage for the second time in a row.
STEPHEN KESHI- 2014
Stephen Keshi is the first ever manager to qualify Nigeria for the FIFA World Cup and also lead the team to the same tournament after Amodu Shuaibu and Phillip Troussier failed to accomplish that task. Although there were speculations suggesting that he may not lead the team, but just like Westerhof, he had also succeeded in winning the 2013 AFCON with the team and that was enough to give him an opportunity to try his hands at the global level. He eventually led the team to the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup where he succeeded in leading the team to the knockout stage after missing out on two consecutive occasions.
The German tactician is the third manager ever to qualify and lead Nigeria to the World Cup. He inherited the qualifying second stage series after Sunday Oliseh resigned in 2016. After qualifying Nigeria to the World Cup, Rohr was not faced with any challenge or uproar in the media of being sacked. He led the team and hoped he could break the Argentina-jinx in Russia. Sadly he could not as his team needed a draw against Argentina to enable us progress to the round of 16, but a late goal saw the Eagles hope dashed as the team failed to reach the knockout stage.