Nigeria did fairly well last year, finishing third at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, and registering some impressive friendly results, most notably a 1-1 draw against Brazil in October. They also made a good start to the qualifying series for the 2021 AFCON, beating Benin Republic and Lesotho to take early control of Group L.
Nigerians are very demanding of their national team, and many criticized their third-place showing at the 2019 AFCON. However, considering where we were in previous years, that was a step forward for the team. Before the 2019 Cup of Nations in Egypt, the Eagles had shockingly failed to qualify for two previous editions of the continental showpiece, but we got back into the competition last year and made it all the way to the last four.
We did not play our best football in Egypt, especially during the round-robin phase, when we scored uninspiring victories over Burundi and Guinea, before suffering a humiliating defeat against Madagascar, a major coupon buster for sports bettors in the country!
Football betting is big business in Nigeria, and many would have backed the Eagles to beat Madagascar, only to be massively disappointed by their beloved team. The only people smiling after that defeat were the numerous betting sites in the country!
Gernot Rohr's men got better as the tournament progressed. The Eagles took down defending champions, Cameroon in a thrilling second round contest, before beating South Africa in the quarter finals. Nigeria pushed Algeria very hard in the semi-finals, but we were undone by the last-minute brilliance of Riyadh Mahrez and some questionable set-piece defending. Still, we left Egypt on a high, beating Tunisia in the third-place match.
The most important thing is to learn from the past, and try to make corrections as we forge ahead into the new year. The main objective for the Eagles in 2020 will be to qualify for the 2021 Nations Cup without much alarm, and make a solid start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in March.
There are some really tough teams in Africa at the moment; hence all hands must be on deck to ensure that the Eagles do not encounter any early mishaps in their quest to qualify for Qatar 2022. With only the group winners moving into the final round of qualifying, Nigeria cannot afford to make a slow start to the campaign.
There are still a few things to be sorted out before the qualifiers commence, the most important being the contractual situation of the team coach, Gernot Rohr. The relationship between Rohr and the Nigeria Football Federation appears fractious at the moment, given the recent statements credited to the German tactician and the president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick. Rohr's current contract expires in the summer, and it remains unclear whether or not he will put pen to paper on a new deal. The earlier they resolve that problem, the better for the Eagles.
Going by rankings and recent history, you would expect Nigeria to qualify for Qatar. We are currently the third-best team in Africa, and have been to six of the last seven FIFA World Cup tournaments. For those football betting fans that gave up on Nigeria after that Madagascar defeat, this may be a good time to forgive the team and start backing the Eagles again. I'm sure you will find great odds on Nigeria qualifying for the next World Cup.
For the uninitiated who are wondering how to get started on sports betting, it's pretty straightforward. All you need to do is to sign up on one of the many betting sites in Nigeria and start enjoying the wonderful world of online sports betting.
Hopefully, the Super Eagles will bring us plenty of joy in 2020!
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