They have always been regarded as one of the powerhouses in African football, and the Super Eagles has proved that by winning the most prestigious Africa Cup of Nations three times.
Nigeria first took part in the 1963 edition, but had to wait until they hosted the tournament in 1980 to achieve their first glory. They went to win two more AFCON titles in 1994 and 2013.
Nigeria (then nicknamed Green Eagles) hosted the 1980 edition, and started their Group A campaign with a 3-1 victory over then debutants Tanzania. A goalless draw with Cote d’Ivoire meant they had to beat Egypt in the final group game, which they did thanks to Okey Isima lone goal to reach the semis. Another 1-0 victory over Morocco was enough to see the Eagles reaching the final where they faced Algeria. Olusegun Odegbami’s brace and a goal from Mudashiru Babatunde Lawal gave Nigeria a 3-0 victory and their first AFCON glory.
Coach: Otto Gloria (Brazil)
Final: Nigeria 3-0 Algeria
Top Scorer: Olusegun Odegbami (3 goals)
The Golden Class of 1994 earned Nigeria the nickname of Super Eagles after they qualified to the FIFA World Cup for the first time, and bagged their second AFCON title in Tunisia. Nigeria opened their Group B account with a 3-0 victory over Gabon, followed by a barren stalemate against Egypt. In the quarterfinals, Rashidi Yekini scored a brace to see off DR Congo (then named Zaire) 2-0. A 2-2 draw with Cote d’Ivoire in the semis was followed by a 4-2 penalty shootout win as the Super Eagles reached the final. Emmanuel Amuneke’s brace helped Nigeria to come back from behind and beat Zambia 2-1 for their second title.
Coach: Clemence Westerhof (Netherlands)
Final: Nigeria 2-1 Zambia
Top Scorer: Rashidi Yekini (5 goals)
South Africa 2013
Nigeria won their third AFCON title in South Africa 2013, guided by Stephen Keshi who was the captain of the 1994 winning team, being the second man to win the title as a player and coach after Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary. The Super Eagles started their campaign with two identical 1-1 draws against Burkina Faso and Zambia, before defeating Ethiopia 2-0. In the quarterfinals, they defeated Cote d’Ivoire 2-1, before outclassing Mali 4-1 in the semis. A Sunday Mba lone goal was enough to see Nigeria beat Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final to conquer the continent for the third time.
Coach: Stephen Keshi
Final: Nigeria 1-0 Burkina Faso
Top Scorer: Emmanuel Emenike (4 goals)