John Mikel Obi says he expects Nigeria to live up to her billing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but has not set any target for the African champions ahead of their fifth appearance on world football’s biggest stage.
The Super Eagles will be up against South Americans, Argentina, Asians, Iran and European, Bosnia-Herzegovina in the group stage of the tournament slated for June 2014 in Brazil.
The 26-year-old, who says he expects tougher oppositions from Iran and Bosnia aside Argentina, wants Nigeria to get off to a winning start on June 16th, when they play Iran at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba.
“It is a good draw but not an easy one,” Mikel was quoted to have said on an exclusive interview with MTNFootball.com.
“All the teams at the World Cup have same dream and that is to win. We will take all the games as they come with all seriousness. We will go for victory in the opening game against Iran, first game is always very important in such a competition.
“Then, we do so for the other games. I am sure we will progress from the group.
“Argentina are favourites but Iran and Bosnia may be tougher. We will face all of them with seriousness and zeal to win.”
Mikel scored his fourth international goal on June 20th against Uruguay in the group stage of the 2013 Fifa Confederation Cup at the Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador in Brazil.
The goal wasn’t enough to avoid Nigeria’s ouster from the tournament as La Celeste finished runners-up of Group B alongside Spain, while Nigeria’s Eagles returned back to the continent.
Looking back at the tournament, the Chelsea FC of England midfielder thinks they gave it their all, despite finishing third in the group with just a victory against Oceania minnows, Tahiti, and two losses.
“We did our best at Confederations Cup, but the World Cup is a different tournament. We want to go back there and finish the business in Brazil,” he added.
Despite not willing to set a target for the country ahead of the soccer showpiece, the midfielder re-echoed goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama’s intuition Nigeria could become the first African nation to clinch the World Cup, saying: “All the 32 teams could win the World Cup. We will take it one game after the other.”