The Super Eagles may have failed to take flight at the Confederations Cup, but coach Stephen Keshi is still looking up.
Nigeria’s only win at the competition came over minnows Tahiti, but the African champions are not considered to have let their continent down despite their exit from the tournament.
Keshi sent a largely inexperienced team to do battle in Brazil, and at times during their group stage games against South America champions Uruguay and their European counterparts Spain, they looked as if they could slug it out with the best the world has to offer.
Much of Nigeria’s counter-attacking in particular was swashbuckling and exciting to behold.
They are physical, technical, attack-minded and fearless, and come across as rough diamonds in need of just a little high-quality buffing.
Keshi had been struggling to get his up-and-coming players to click like they did in winning Afcon 2013, with their World Cup qualifying campaign anything but smooth sailing so far.
But he thinks they have matured again on the global stage, and that their moments of eye-catching football at the Confed Cup will stand them in good stead in their bid to return to Brazil next year.
"It's a learning process for us, we just have to continue what we started tonight and build,” Keshi said after Nigeria’s 3-0 defeat to Spain on Sunday.
“This is a team that hardly ever goes down 2-0 and when put in that position, they lost the composure, the shape of the team. It was a major problem.”
"In the first half we were very composed, but when we conceded the second goal in the second half, we became unprofessional. We need more experience,” Keshi continued.
"The teams and the coaches that I spoke with have been very educational for us. We're going back with some sort of education from this tournament."