Football is the most popular sport in Nigeria. The Nigeria national football team competes regularly for international titles and many Nigerian footballers compete in Europe, particularly in England. Nigeria has one of the finest national teams in Africa and has produced many notable footballers.
The Nigeria national football team, nicknamed the Super Eagles, is the national team of Nigeria and is controlled by the Nigeria Football Association. According to the FIFA World Rankings, Nigeria, at 39th, are currently the 5th best team in the Confederation of African Football.
The Nigeria national football team played their first international match against Sierra Leone in Freetown on 8 October 1949. Nigeria won 2-0. Their biggest win recorded was 16-1 against Benin.
Nigeria's youth teams won the inaugural FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1985 as well as in 1993 and in 2007. The under-17 team is known as the Golden Eaglets and Under-20 team is known as the "Flying Eagles".
Nigeria's Flying Eagles qualified for the first time to represent Africa in the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship in Mexico. Although Nigeria did not go beyond the first round, they beat the highly rated USSR 1-0 and held the Netherlands to a goalless draw.
In 1985, the under-17 football team went to China and conquered the world in the first ever FIFA U-17 World Championship. The victory took Nigerian football to a high pedestal, setting the stage for a respect of Nigeria in international competitions. To prove a point of Nigeria's new found strength in football, the under-20 team went to Saudi Arabia for the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship and lost narrowly in the final to Portugal. The team pulled off the now-legendary "Miracle of Damman", erasing a 4-0 deficit to the Soviet Union to tie and then win by penalties. In 2007, the under-17 squad were crowned world champions in South Korea for the 3rd time. Nigeria has been chosen to host the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The 1996 under-23 team won the gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta. After defeating Brazil by 4 - 3, they won the final against Argentina 3 - 2.
Nigeria also won the first-ever Unity World Cup in 2014.
The women's national team (the Super Falcons) has been a dominant force on the African continent since its inception. They have qualified for every FIFA Women's World Cup and won the first seven CAF Women's Championships before having their run end in 2008 against Equatorial Guinea. Great players for the Falcons include Mercy Akide, Maureen Mmadu and Perpetua Nkwocha.