Nigeria world cup

Nigeria News: Mikel determined to silence critics

1 year ago

In the latest Nigeria news, captain John Obi Mikel says he has confidence the squad can put a disappointing build-up behind them and cause a few surprises at the World Cup.

The Super Eagles landed in Russia on Monday night to continue their preparations for the finals, getting their campaign underway against Croatia on Saturday.

The African nation has been placed in a tough-looking Group D having been paired with the Croats, Iceland and Argentina.

Nigeria are the lowest-ranked team in the pool and their build-up to the finals has given few fans the belief they can make it to the knockout stages, as they did in 2014.

Mikel’s men lost all three of their warm-up matches before heading to Russia but the Tianjin TEDA midfielder says their belief they can put in a strong performance at the World Cup has not been dented.

“We like where we’ve been placed. We don’t want to be one of the favourites,” Mikel told Al Jazeera.

“I think this will give the team enough motivation to prove critics wrong that we can actually do better that they actually feel.”

The main cause for celebration for Nigeria so far has been their sell-out World Cup kit, while they also caught the eye with the outfits they wore when arriving in Russia.

Head coach Gernot Rohr is keen to keep the focus on matters on the pitch at Nigeria’s sixth World Cup and insists there is way more to his side than just being trendsetters.

“We are happy to be here after working so hard. But we continue to work and we continue to be humble and we will be ready for Croatia because the first game, it is a very important game, not the clothes,” Rohr told KweséESPN.

The Super Eagles are 17/4 with Betway to get the better of Croatia in their World Cup opener on Saturday in what will be the first meeting between the two nations.