27 May 2018

Nigeria: Mikel Accepts Underdog Status for Super Eagles in Russia

Photo: Premium Times
Obi Mikel (file photo).

Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, has accepted the team's underdog status as the Mundial gets underway in Russia, next month.

Nigeria, which is rated number 47th in the world by FIFA, is the least among other countries in Group D that include favourite, Argentina (fifth), Croatia (18th) and Iceland (22), and has been tipped not to qualify from the group.

"Honestly, people didn't expect us to qualify but we are off to Russia and now it's all about the rankings," the former Chelsea midfielder told BBC Sport.

"When you look at the group I'd say we are more than happy for people to write us off and very happy to be the underdogs.

"It takes the pressure off the shoulders of our young squad and we can go about our World Cup with humility, which is perfectly fine.

"Football is played on the pitch and not by rankings or permutations," Mikel Obi added.

Argentina beat Nigeria four times at the World Cup, which include 2-1 in 1994, 1-0 in 2002 and 2010, and the 3-2 result at the last World Cup in Brazil.

But the three-time African champions took their revenge when they defeated the Argentines 4-2 in a friendly in last year and a 1-0 victory over Poland on home soil.

According to China Super League side, Tianjin TEDA midfielder, "We've got a blend of experience and a young squad playing without fear but with passion, which is good for us on the road to Russia.

"We have friendlies against DR Congo (May 28), England (June 2) and Czech Republic (June 6) that will help us finalise our World Cup preparations.

"From the first game at the World Cup our target would be to keep progressing as a team and take it from there," Mikel said.

Eagles will play its first match at the Mundial against Croatia on June 16, after which she will meet Iceland on June 22 and then the two-time champions, Argentina, four days later.

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