On October 7, 2017, Alex Iwobi’s 73rd-minute strike made Nigeria Africa’s first qualifier for this summer’s major international tournament.
The 21-year-old forward, who was born in Lagos and has spent much of his life in England, is just one of the Super Eagles’ young stars (the majority of the roster is under 25). He and the team head to the tournament with a supreme confidence that is pure contemporary Nigeria: Audacious. Fast. Fun. Stylish.
Those terms also describe elements of Nigerian culture, which reverberates within diaspora communities in England, the United States and around the world. The combined energy has prompted a new designation for Nigeria itself: Naija.
The word Naija has many uses. As a descriptor, it defines a certain future-focused optimism — one that has catalyzed a new generation of Nigerians to celebrate the nation’s vibrant culture. Nike’s energetic collection for the Nigeria Football Federation is imbued with the Naija spirit. There are the requisite odes to the Super Eagles’ on-pitch success (the home kit carries a familiar badge recolored to honor the ’96 gold medal-winning “Dream Team”) and tradition (as always, there’s a full green kit, though it’s now the away stripe rather than the home). But at heart, the looks are driven by a desire to channel a healthy reserve of exuberance.