AS one of the power houses of African football, Nigeria drew bye in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers for the African zone. But despite being drawn in a seeming weak group comprising Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa in the second round, the Super Eagles under then indigenous coach, Shaibu Amodu struggled to top the group.
The score sheet kind of deceived Nigerians as they romped to 100 per cent record, winning all the games, scoring 11 goals and conceding just one with the maximum 18 points. The third and final round which decided which team would head to South Africa, the Eagles again drew minnows Mozambique and Kenya with only Tunisia being the tough opponents.
Twice in this group they had the opportunity of sealing victory but twice they blew it leaving the decider for the last matches of the qualifiers in November last year. Blood pressure of Nigerians including President Umar Musa YarÃdua shot up during this stage causing the number one citizen to set up a Task Force to support the Nigeria Football Association, NFA to ensure the Eagles did not miss the first World Cup on African soil.
Enyeama, Odemwingie, Uche most capped
To prosecute the qualifiers, coach Amodu used a total of 32 players for the 12 matches played in the second and third rounds which spanned 19 months from June, 2008 to November, 2009. This is against the 50 group opponents, Argentina used. Out of the 32 players used for the qualifiers, only three, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, Osaze Odemwingie and Ikechukwu Uche played up to 10 games. Of these three, only Enyeama played played full games, recording 900 minutes in the 10 games played. That means he was never substituted in those games. Odemwingie played a total of 799 minutes while Uche played for 739 minutes.