Best ever Nigeria starting XI of all time at African Cup of Nations: Okocha, Yekini, Keshi, Amokachi, Kanu. Nigeria have had some truly talented players over the years.
Nigeria Super Eagles are one of the most followed international football teams in Africa, but they have managed just three African Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles. They have suffered heartbreaking losses in the finals (1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000)
To pick a best ever Nigeria starting XI from only the AFCON is a challenging task and it comes as no surprise that some of the players from the 1980, 1994 and 2013 made it to this team.
Without much ado, let us have a look at the best ever Nigeria starting XI from the AFCON:
One of Africa’s greatest ever goalkeepers, Vincent Enyeama was a true Nigerian legend. An integral part of the AFCON winning squad in 2013, Vinny edged Peter Rufai to the number one spot.
The former Enyimba, Bnei Yehuda, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Lille goalkeeper was known for his athletic saves and commanding presence in the box. He was also adept at pulling off miraculous saves from point-blank range.
Vincent Enyeama had an amazing career for Nigeria. He played 101 times for Nigeria. He truly deserves his place as the undisputed number 1 in this squad.
Stephen Keshi was the captain of the 1994 Nigeria squad.
One of the most inspirational captains of all time, Keshi was like a rock in defense playing a key role during his time for Nigeria. His partner at the heart of the defense is Uche Okechukwu.
The Gentle Giant is one of the greatest players Nigeria have had and both Keshi and Okechukwu were inspirational captains and leaders. For the left-back position, there is no debate. Arguably one of the best African left-backs of all time, Ben Iroha proved his mettle at the 1994 AFCON netting a world class goal against Cote d’Ivoire in the semi finals.
A well deserved pick for the right-back slot, Joseph Yobo. Technically, Yobo had the attributes to be a top full back as he had pace – one of the most important attributes needed for a full back as they have to bomb up and down the flank. He was the strongest of players, his tactical awareness, intelligence, work-rate, professionalism and determination made him one of the best defensive full backs in Nigeria. He later switched to central defence.
The back 4 of Stephen Keshi, Uche Okechukwu, Ben Iroha and Joseph Yobo will definitely give the attackers sleepless nights.
Austin Jay-Jay Okocha is one of the most talented Nigerian footballers of all time.
A creative and technically gifted attacking midfielder, Jay Jay was easily one of the most talented players to have ever played for Nigeria. Jay Jay was gifted with mobility, pace, physical strength, balance, and excellent dribbling skills, which allowed him to protect the ball, beat opponents, and withstand physical challenges. His performances at the 1994 AFCON, earned him a place in the team of the tournament.
John Obi Mikel is considered to be one of the greatest Nigerian central midfielders of all time and he rightly takes his place in this team for his performances in the 2013 AFCON.
Partnering in midfield and providing solidity in the middle of the park is Sunday Oliseh. Completing the midfield is Daniel Amokachi. Both merits a place in this team.
Oliseh was a complete monster who combined marking with ball distribution.
De Bull peppered opponents with his power and physical flavour.
KANU Nwankwo the number holder of all time in the Super Eagles team, he know for his flexibility, skills, dribbling and parallel shot. KANU performed excellently in Atlanta 96 against Spain. Papilo is the best 4 Nigeria ever had.
One of the greatest ‘number 9s’ of all time in Africa, Rashidi Yekini was Nigeria’s star player in the 1990, 1992 and 1994 AFCON. The legendary striker scored 13 goals at the Cup of Nations. Yekini became the first Nigeria Super Eagles player to scored in World Cup tournament.
Yekini was a prolific goalscorer and he was known for his strength, stamina, powerful shot and heading abilities. Yekini’s impact in the 1994 AFCON tournament can be seen from the fact that he finished the tournament as the Golden Boot winner and he was also named in the CAF team of the tournament.
Pairing Yekini upfront is Segun ‘Mathematical’ Odegbami. The Shooting Stars legend singlehandedly piloted Nigeria to success at the 1980 African Cup of Nations. The Polytechnic Ibadan graduate earned the nickname Mathematical because he studied Engineering.
The team lines up in a 4-4-2 formation with Rashidi Yekini in the front line or leading the attacking role. The midfield is full of creativity and running with Jay Jay Okocha and Daniel Amokachi being ably supported by Sunday Oliseh and John Obi Mikel.
The defensive back-line is solid, with Stephen Keshi partnering Uche Okechukwu at the heart of the defense. The full backs are Ben Iroha and Joseph Yobo and they have probably one of the greatest African goalkeepers of all time, Vincent Enyeama guarding the goal.
The captain of this great team is the legendary Stephen Keshi.
This starting XI is the best African Cup of Nations squad of all time for the Super Eagles.
What do you think about the Nigerian African Cup of Nations best ever starting XI?