In the latest Nigeria news, John Obi Mikel has stressed the importance of building unity in the Nigeria squad as they look to enjoy a strong run at the 2018 World Cup.
The Super Eagles head to Russia without too much expectation on their shoulders after boss Gernot Rohr named a youthful looking squad.
Nigeria, who are priced at 9/4 to qualify from their group with bet365, have progressed beyond the group stage on three of their six appearances at the major event, although they have never gone further than the round of 16.
After being drawn in Group D with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland many feel they could secure a place in the knockout stages, however, they haven’t been tipped by many to go much further.
Mikel, who is a veteran at the showpiece event, has welcomed the suggestion Nigeria are underdogs and feels it plays to their advantage.
“Being underdogs is good for us. It means we have to do more, we have to be humble,” Mikel said.
Rohr’s men kick off their World Cup campaign on June 16 before tackling Euro 2016 heroes Iceland and then wrapping up the group stage against favourites Argentina.
The experienced international is optimistic about their chances of getting out of the group if they pull together as a unit and has stressed the importance of picking up a positive result against Croatia in Kaliningrad.
He added: “We have to do better than we have ever done. It will be tough because we’re in a tough group and so our first game (against Croatia) is very important. It’s important we win that game.
“One thing that will help us is we need to be together, play as a team, and the fighting spirit we have all this time, we need to show it in Russia.
“We need to continue the way we have done. We are a young and energetic team. We go as one, Nigeria and the team come first.”