Just before the 1994 World Cup, Nigeria had won their second Africa Cup of Nations, their striker Rashidi Yekini was named the player of the tournament as well as top scorer and their Dutch coach, Clemens Westerhof, had implemented an impressive 4-4-2 flat formation that dominated Africa and sent Nigeria to their first World Cup participation.
Nigeria’s opening game of the tournament which was also their debut in the World Cup, showed exactly what this team Clemens Westerhof had put together can do under pressure. The Super Eagles came up against Bulgaria with an impressive side and were able to thrash the Bulgarians 3-0 after iconic individual performances by Finidi George and Rashidi Yekini.
The Super Eagles then took on a superb Argentina side which featured players like Maradona, Simeone and Batistuta in their second World Cup next game and lost 2-1 by a brace from Caludio Caniggia. And in their third and final group stage game against Greece, the Super Eagles were able to secure a 2-0 victory as well as their group’s leadership by a total of 6 points.
Nigeria then had to face Italy in the round of 16 who had one of the best teams of the tournament which included Roberto Baggio, Zola, Maldini, Albertini, Antonio Conte and Franco Baresi with the legendary Arrigo Sacchi on the touchline. Emmanuel Amunike gave the lead to the Super Eagles in the opening 25 minutes of the game and went on to maintain their lead till the 88th and were just two minutes away from snatching a historic win against a 10-man Italy team, until Roberto Baggio scored the equalizer and took it back to the starting point in extra time.
Baggio then scored his second of the night in the 105th minute and by that ended the Nigerian dream of becoming the second African team after Cameroon to qualify to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Italy then went on to lose the final against Brazil on penalties, in one of the most heartbreaking moments for any Italian football fan; Baggio missed from the spot to gift the trophy to Brazil.