Can Nigeria finally crack the World Cup Round of 16?

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face a daunting task in the Russia 2018 Fifa World Cup, as they will be looking to go beyond round 16 of the tournament for the first time.

The Western African country will battle it out against Argentina, Croatia and Iceland in Group D.

The Eagles became the first African team to qualify for the World Cup. Nigeria managed to collect 13 points to beat Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria to book spot in Russia.

This will be their 6th appearance of the tournament having made the first one in the World Cup back in 1994 in United States.

Heading to Russia, led by the German-born coach, Gernot Rohr, the Super Eagles will look to go beyond the Round of 16, which the nation has failed to surpass in previous competitions.

In the group stages in United States, Nigeria defeated Bulgaria 3-0, Greece 2-0 and succumbed to Argentina by 2-1, to advance to the Round of 16 before Italy sent them packing by 2-1.

Nigeria returned to the World Cup again in 1998 in France under Coach Bora Milutinović, they also went to the second round after causing an upset to Spain beating them 3-2. They also beat Bulgaria and lost to Paraguay. Denmark became a stumbling block in their progress trashing them by 4-1.

In 2002, the Eagles were expected to build up from their good form of year 2000 and 2002 from the Africa Cup of Nations where they became runners-up and bronze medallists. But they failed to make it to the next round in South Korea and Japan.

Eagles were unsuccessful to qualify for 2006 World Cup in Germany.

They bounced back in 2010’s World Cup that was held in South Africa, which was for the first time for competition to be played on the African continent.

In South Africa, Eagles had a poor showing as they were dumped out of the tourney in the first round, after recording two 1-0 and 2-1 defeats to Argentina and Greece before drawing 2-all against South Korea.

The poor performance led the country president; Goodluck Jonathan to suspend the national football team from international competition for two years. The decision put the team at risk of being banned from international football by FIFA for reasons of political interference.

In October 2010, Nigeria was until further notice forbidden from international football due to government interference after the 2010 World Cup. But few days later the sanction was lift up. And the case was dropped.

In the 2014 Tournament held in Brazil, the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations champions, advanced to the round 16 for the third time. In group stages, they played 0-all draw again Iran, before recording 3-2 loss against Argentina and 1-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was their third victory since 1994.

In round 16, Stephen Keshi charges, who was their coach at that time, played against France which narrowly-edged them by 2-0, with goals from Paul Pogba and Joseph Yobo’s own goal.

Heading to Russia, Nigeria will be relying on their superstars Victor Moses, John Obi Mikel and Alex Iwobi .