Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel admits that they will have an extremely difficult time progressing past the group stages at the World Cup, but insists that both himself and his teammates are determined to do the nation proud
The Super Eagles did a superb job in the previous World Cup at Brazil, where they reached the knockout stages before losing to France 2-0 at the Round of 16 stage.
Heading into their sixth appearance in world football’s biggest stage, Nigeria have progressed to the Round of 16 three times in 1994, 1998 and 2014.
But Gernot Rohr’s are not expected to progress past the group stages this time around with Nigeria having been drawn in Group D along with Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.
“It is the dream of every footballer to play at the FIFA World Cup and we have to live that dream on Saturday. Croatia is a very good team with a lot of top class players and we have to be at our very best against them,” said Mikel, according to The NFF.
“This group is probably the toughest in the tournament; everyone is calling it the ‘group of death’. That is the motivation. We have given ourselves the target of coming out of this group just like we did in the African qualifying group that everyone gave the same tag.
“As our coach has said, we worked hard at both the camp in Austria and since we got to the team base camp in Essentuki. Our Football Federation also did well to get us to prepare in very good places devoid of distraction and now, it is our responsibility to do the nation proud by starting well against Croatia.”
After facing Croatia on Saturday, Nigeria will then play against Iceland on June 22 and later Argentina on June 26.