World Cup guide - Nigeria
Nigeria left it late to qualify for the World Cup - an 81st-minute winner against Kenya in the final qualifier seeing them through - and their preparations for South Africa have been similarly last minute. The decision to sack coach Shaibu Amodu following their third-place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations meant his replacement, Swede Lars Lagerback, effectively has just three weeks with his squad before the tournament. The Nigerian Football Federation has been fined by Fifa after changing their World Cup base late in the day, and there has also been confusion over the venues for their warm-up matches.
And while problems before the 1994 and 1998 World Cups did not prevent them from impressing in those tournaments, this squad does not contain the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi and Sunday Oliseh. John Mikel Obi is their only stand-out player, and he is recovering from a knee injury, while a squad that boasts plenty of pacey forwards also lacks quality midfielders.
Aim: The Nigerian Football Federation is targeting a semi-final place. That looks unlikely, but the side will be under pressure to reach the last 16 given the tournament is in Africa.
THREE KEY PLAYERS
PETER ODEMWINGIE A pacey right winger who can also play up front, Odemwingie was born in Uzbekistan to a Nigerian father and Russian mother and was rated by some observers as Nigeria's best player during the qualifying campaign.
JOESEPH YOBO The pacey Everton defender is likely to captain the side if Nwankwo Kanu is not in the starting line-up. He has been a regular for the Super Eagles since making his debut in 2001, and is a lynchpin of the Nigerian defence.
VINCENT ENYEAMA A veteran of the 2002 World Cup campaign, when he kept a clean sheet in the final game against England, the keeper scored nine penalties for his Israeli club this season.
LARS LAGERBACK The experienced Swede, who took his home nation to the last 16 of the previous two World Cups, beat off competition from Sven-Goran Eriksson and Glenn Hoddle to land the job in February.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Nigeria's World Cup qualifying highlights (UK only)
W 2-0 South Africa (H)
W 1-0 Sierra Leone (A)
W 1-0 Equatorial Guinea (A)
W 2-0 Equatorial Guinea (H)
W 1-0 South Africa (A)
W 4-1 Sierra Leone (H)
D 0-0 Mozambique (A)
W 3-0 Kenya (H)
D 0-0 Tunisia (A)
D 2-2 Tunisia (H)
W 1-0 Mozambique (H)
W 3-2 Kenya (A)
Qualified top of group
WORLD CUP BEST
Reached last 16 in 1994 and1998. On their debut in 1994, they were leading Italy 1-0 with two minutes remaining before Roberto Baggio equalised and then scored an extra-time winner from the penalty spot to send his side into the quarter-finals.
Written by Tom McCoy