Facts & figures: Nigeria

Factbox on World Cup qualifiers Nigeria: World Cup record:

Previous appearances in finals: Three

Best performance: Second round in 1994 and 1998

Coach: Shaibu Amodu

Has had nine different spells as Nigeria's coach, constantly shuffling in and out of the door as a myriad of other coaches have come and gone. He has had only two lengthy spells in charge and qualified the team both times for the World Cup. But just three months before the 2002 finals he was fired because Nigeria finished only third at the African Nations Cup in Mali. Now he faces a similar threatening scenario at the Nations Cup in Angola in January.

Key players:

John Obi Mikel (Chelsea). Age: 22. Midfielder

Elegant midfielder but his appearances for Nigeria to date have been mediocre and, at times, almost inconsequential.

Peter Odemwingie (Lokomotiv Moscow). Age: 28. Midfielder

Born in Uzbekistan to a Nigerian father and Russian mother, Odemwingie has been a persistently valuable performer for the Super Eagles and paid his dues with numerous calls-up before settling into a permanent first-team place. His pace ensures that he is a dangerous commodity for opposing defences.

Taye Taiwo (Olympique Marseille). Age: 24. Fullback.

The left back has a powerful shot and has scored cracking goals from long-range free kicks for both club and country. He is a past winner of the Young African Player of the Year award.

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 22

How they qualified: Nigeria were on the brink of elimination in their penultimate qualifier in October when they scored a stoppage-time winner against Mozambique to keep alive their chances. They were still two points behind Tunisia on the final day of the preliminaries on Nov. 7 but won away in Kenya while Tunisia slipped to a surprise defeat in Mozambique.

Prospects: Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and therefore seen as the side with the best chance of being the first from the continent to win a World Cup. But they are in a crisis of confidence and also lack a player of genuine world class and creativity in the squad, a void left by the retirement of Jay-Jay Okocha.