As it is on every 1st of January, a new year comes with a new slate and fresh air filled with lots of expectations.
The year 2023, is no different for Nigerians.2022 saw Nigerian football experience a torrid time across the board, from the youth levels even up to the senior national teams.
In what was one of the biggest upsets of the unpleasant year, Nigerians were forced to watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup without the Super Eagles who had been prevented from qualifying by rivals, Ghana.
Worse, poor performance at the AFCON earlier in the year saw the men’s senior team get knocked out in the round of 16 – as compared to a third-place finish at the event in 2019, while the Super Eagles team B failed in their bid to qualify for the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
1. Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL): January 8 – May 14
After months of delay following the conclusion of the 2021/22 season which Rivers United won, a new season in the Nigerian top-flight league is set to take centre stage. The regular season which will run until May 14 will see 20 teams compete to make the Super 6 playoff, with the final six teams, left to vie for the trophy.
2. 2022/23 CAF Confederations Cup – Group Stage starts February 12
Being the only Nigerian club side left on the continent, Rivers United will start their group stage campaign on February 12 with an away game at the Republic of Congo. They are drawn in Group B with Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas, Republic of Congo’s Diables Noirs, and D.R. Congo’s Motema Pembe.
3. 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations: February 19 – March 11
The Flying Eagles will head to Egypt in February with the mindset of not just winning the U-20 AFCON, but also qualifying for the U-20 World Cup later in the year. They are drawn in Group A with hosts Egypt, Mozambique and Senegal.
4. AFCON 2023 Qualifiers: Resumes March 21
The Super Eagles will resume their qualification for the 2023 AFCON scheduled to hold in Cote d’Ivoire in January/February 2024. Nigeria currently leads Group A with six points after wins over Sierra Leone and Sao Tome and Principe. Super Eagles play Guinea-Bissau in a doubleheader in March.
5. 2023 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations: April 8 – April 30
Having won this competition twice, the Golden Eaglets will hope to make it three when they head to Algeria later in the year. The competition will also serve as a qualification tournament for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
6. 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup: May 20 – June 11
Should the Flying Eagles finish as one of the top four teams at the U-20 AFCON, they will fly Nigeria’s flag in Indonesia. Nigeria are two-time U-20 World Cup finalist having finished second in 1989 and 2005.
7. 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: July 20 – August 20
Having qualified for their ninth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Super Falcons will join 31 other teams in Australia and New Zealand with the aim of becoming the first African team to lift the title.
8. 2023 FIFA U17 World Cup: November 10 – December 2
Should the Golden Eaglets finish as one of the top four teams at the U-17 AFCON, they will fly Nigeria’s flag in Peru. Nigeria remains the most successful team in this tournament having won it in 1985, 1993, 2007, 2013 and 2015.