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Mikel wants Nigeria to make their mark

Jon Obi Mikel in action for Nigeria (Pic: Claudio Villa/Getty Images) Jon Obi Mikel in action for Nigeria (Pic: Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Tom Moore
Monday, June 9, 2014
9:00 AM

Chelsea midfielder ready for Super Eagles action

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Jon Obi Mikel believes Nigeria have improved over the past four years and have the ability to win the World Cup.

The Super Eagles face Iran in their opening game, Bosnia-Herzegovina second and the highly-fancied Argentina last of all.

But the Chelsea midfielder believes his country have the ability to, not only progress from the group, but emerge triumphant at the Maracana on July 13.

“I think we’re in better shape than in 2010,” he said. “We want to go all the way.

“With the team spirit and calibre of players we have, I think we can. We want to get to the final.

“You never know in football. We’re going into every game to win, but have to take it one game at a time.

“I think that is the mentality we have in this team.

“The young players are coming up and they’re learning from the older players. We’re mixing it up – the group is looking strong.”

Nigeria picked up a solitary point at the 2010 World Cup, losing to Argentina and Greece before drawing with South Korea.

But Mikel believes the mixture of youth and experience in the current squad makes it stronger.

“Four years ago, we had an aging team but there are a lot of young players in the team and they’re all hungry,” he added.

“I think that’s the mentality we have. Hopefully we’ll have a good tournament.”

Nigeria emerged as Africa Cup of Nations champions in 2013 and Mikel says it led to an increase in confidence in the camp.

“It gives us extra confidence,” he said. “We have to make sure we know we’re representing Africa as the whole continent, the same as the other African countries.

“It’s going to be tough – the highest of all tournaments. We have to go there and make sure we perform well.”

Argentina are overwhelming favourites to progress from Group F, with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria battling for second place and Iran predicted to finish bottom.

But Mikel insists they are going to be meticulous in their preparation.

“We’re going to approach the Iran and Bosnia game in the same way,” he said. “Even when we play Argentina we’ll approach it the same. It doesn’t matter who we face. We want to get out of the group stages and see what happens.

“We do a little bit [of research] but hopefully what we do is going to pay off during the tournament.”

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