Nigeria national football team: players, coach, nickname, world rankings, AFCON

Nigeria national football team: players, coach, nickname, world rankings, AFCON

Helix Odhiambo
updated at April 12, 2023 at 7:54 PM

Considered by many the giant of African football, the Nigeria national football team, popularly referred to as the Super Eagles, has had quite a remarkable success on the pitch. The country is also home to some of the most talented players in the world. So, is Nigeria a good football team? Find out more fascinating facts in this article.

Nigeria national football team
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

According to the latest census report, Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, with slightly over 200 million people. Their passion for football is unwavering and has grown over the years. Let's look at Nigeria's national football team roster, titles, and history.

Profile summary

  • Full name: Nigeria national football team
  • Nickname: Super Eagles
  • Founded: 1945
  • Managed by: Nigeria Football Federation
  • Confederation: CAF
  • CAF affiliation: 1959
  • FIFA affiliation: 1960
  • Colors: Green, white
  • Coach: Augustine Eguavoen
  • Captain: William Troost-Ekong
  • FIFA ranking: 36 (as of December 2021)

Who brought football to Nigeria?

Nigeria national football team ranking
Super Eagles fans cheer their national team. Football is the most popular sport in Nigeria. Photo: Daniel Beloumou
Source: Getty Images

Football was introduced in Nigeria by the British colony in the early 20th century. It was widely used as a symbol of freedom and nationalism. The Super Eagles played their first international game on 8 October 1949 against Sierra Leone in Freetown. A goal from Teslim Balogun and an own goal from Ashman propelled Nigeria to a 2-0 victory, marking the beginning of a significant venture for the nation.

The team also made a tour to the UK in 1949. They played friendly matches against several opponents, including Marine Cosby, Leytonstone FC, Corinthians League XI, South Liverpool, and Athenian League XI.

Origin of 'Super Eagles' nickname

The story behind Nigeria's national football team nickname dates back to the 1960s. Before gaining independence, the country's football team was nicknamed 'UK Tourists' then later 'Red Devils.' After independence, they changed their name to 'Green Eagles' because of the flag's color and the eagle in the country's court of arms.

The team's name officially changed to Super Eagles after returning from the 1988 Afcon in Morroco, where they lost to Cameroon in the final.


The Super Eagles have featured in 19 Afcon competitions since 1957. They have also played in six World Cup games, one behind Africa's leading participant, Cameroon.

Afcon history

Nigeria national football team trophies
The Super Eagles celebrate winning the 2013 Afcon title after beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final at the National Stadium on 10 February 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Manus van Dyk
Source: Getty Images

Nigeria's national football team in the Afcon campaign began in 1963 when they debuted the competition. They have won the title three times. Their first victory was in 1980 when they hosted the tournament. A 3-0 triumph over Algeria earned them the coveted title. Their golden generation of 1994 delivered the second title after sweeping all their opponents, including a 2-1 victory over Zambia 2-1 in the final.

Led by their 1994 captain, Stephen Keshi, the Super Eagles walked away with the 2013 Afcon edition, beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final to conquer the continent for the third time in their history. However, their hopes of landing a fourth trophy ended after Tunisia crashed them in the round of 16 matches played in Garoua, Cameroon, on 23 January 2022.

World Cup

The Super Eagles are among the top five African teams with the best performances in a World Cup. However, they have never won the accolade. Their best-ever run was in 1994 when their golden generation reached the round of 16. Their defining moment was a 3-0 defeat of Bulgaria in their opening fixture.

Other honors

Nigeria also won the 1993 Africa Games and the CEDEAO Cup (1977, 1990), an international men's football tournament featuring countries in the Economic Community of West African States.

Nigeria's squad 1994

Nigeria's national football team Afcon
Nigerian soccer team golden generation at the Cotton Bowl, Dallas before their FIFA World Cup first-round match against Bulgaria on 21 June 1994. Photo: David Cannon
Source: Getty Images

In 1994, the Super Eagles assembled one of Africa's best-ever squad. Led by lethal striker Emmanuel Amuneke and defender Stephen Keshi, the team dominated Africa and had a good run in the World Cup. Other famous names included legendary goalkeeper Peter Rufai, Uche Okechukwu (defender), midfielders Sunday Oliseh and Austin Okocha, and the mastermind Daniel Amokachi.

Nigeria's national football team players 2022

Who is the captain of Nigerian football? Watford center-back William Troost-Ekong was named the captain of his national team ahead of the team's Afcon campaign in Cameroon.

Who is Nigeria's national football team coach?

Augustine Eguavoen is currently in charge of the team but as an interim. He won the best manager at the group stage of the 2021 Afcon for winning three matches. Before the tournament, Eguavoen had announced 28 players in the Super Eagles' squad list to represent their country in the continental showdown.

Nigeria national football team captain
Nigeria's Samuel Chukwueze (2L) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Sudan in their 2021 Afcon Group D match at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on 15 January 2022. Photo: Daniel Beloumou
Source: Getty Images

Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi of Arsenal, and Villareal's Samuel Chukwueze are among the top stars playing for the team. Here is a complete list of the squad.


  • Francis Uzoho
  • John Noble
  • Daniel Akpeyi
  • Maduka Okoye


  • Chidozie Awaziem
  • Kenneth Omeruo
  • Leon Balogun
  • William Troost-Ekong
  • Olaoluwa Aina
  • Jamilu Collins
  • Abdullahi Shehu
  • Zaidu Sanusi
  • Olisa Ndah


  • Frank Onyeka
  • Joseph Ayodele-Aribo
  • Wilfred Ndidi
  • Chidera Ejuke
  • Kelechi Nwakali


  • Ahmed Musa
  • Samuel Chukwueze
  • Victor Osimhen
  • Moses Simon
  • Sadiq Umar
  • Taiwo Awoniyi
  • Odion Jude Ighalo
  • Alex Iwobi
  • Kelechi Iheanacho
  • Emmanuel Dennis

Who is Super Eagles' all-time top scorer?

Nigeria national football team captain
Rasheed Yekini of Super Eagles dribbles around Italy's goalkeeper Luca Marchesiani during their 1994 World Cup match in Massachusetts. Italy won 2-1 in extra time. Photo: Shaun Botter
Source: Getty Images

The late Rashidi Yekini remains the team's greatest scorer in history. Yekini played for Super Eagles for over two decades and netted 37 goals. Segun Odegbami is second with 22 goals, followed by the magical Yakubu Aiyegbeni with 21 goals.

Nigeria's national football team world rankings

According to the latest FIFA ranking, Super Eagles are placed in position 36 globally. Their best-ever ranking was 5th in 1994 while their worst was 82nd.

Having bowed out of the 2021 Afcon, the Nigerian national football team will now shift focus on their 2022 World Cup qualifier play-off against Ghana. A win in the two-legged tie will seal their spot in the global showpiece.

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Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
Helix Odhiambo is an award-winning Kenyan journalist and content creator with over 6 years of experience. In 2016, he won the Goal Blaze Correspondent Award for young writers.