Nigeria has the youngest squad of all the 32 teams that have qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The assertion was made in the thirtieth monthly report of the CIES Football Observatory, which analysed data from the profiles of the teams that qualified for the World Cup.
The report focused on the qualifying matches and considered parameters such as age, height, country of birth, and their club affiliations of the players.
The study covered the thematics of age, height, country of birth and employer association of players fielded by each squad during the qualifying matches.
From the data collated, the average of the squads participating in Russia was 27.4 when the matches were played.
Nigeria has the lowest average of 24.7. This should come as no surprise. German coach Gernot Rohr has secured the team’s qualification for the World Cup by doing away with many of the older generation of players and creating space for young players like
Iheanacho , Iwobi and Ndidi to flourish and become first team regulars.
Overall, the African teams fall on the lower half of the spectrum; Egypt has an average of 27.2, Morocco has an average age of 27.0, while Senegal and Tunisia ’s players were at an average of 26.4 and 26.8 years old respectively when the qualifiers were paid.
This points to a major shift in African football where the stalwarts of the generation that won plaudits in the 2000s have given way to younger talents.
On the higher end, Panama ’s players were the oldest during qualifying, with an average age of nearly 30 years.
While some might see this as a sign of inexperience, fans will be excited to see how far a distinctly young squad can go in the World Cup after the Super Eagles’ absence from the party in Brazil four years ago.
The Eagles and fans will be looking forward to Friday when the World Cup draw will reveal the team’s opponents in the group stage.