Sergio Aguero (C) of Argentina in action against Nigerian players John Obi Mikel (L) and Chidozie Awaziem (R) during the International Friendl
Monday May 28, 2018. 12:15
Nigeria midfielder and skipper John Obi Mikel says he is happy with the underdog tag put on the Super Eagles ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The West Africans are finalising their preparations for the global showpiece and Mikel said not everybody expected them to qualify.
Coach Gernot Rohr’s side are in the same group with Argentina (Group D) for the fifth time in six World Cup appearances.
They will also face a tough European pair in Croatia and Iceland in the group, but the skipper said he is happy people have written them off to reach the knockout stages.
“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,” Mikel told the BBC website.
"Honestly, people didn't expect us to qualify but we are off to Russia and now it's all about the rankings.
"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.”
Two-time world champions have beaten Nigeria four times at the World Cup, with the Super Eagles losing by the odd goal in each of the matches.
However, the former Chelsea midfielder believes they have a great team capable of causing shocks at the tournament.
"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," he added.
"We have friendlies against DR Congo (28 May), England (2 June) and Czech Republic (6 June) 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."