–Chelsea ace eyes glory with Nigeria
Chelsea of England midfielder Mikel Obi believes the Super Eagles 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 third.
But the Mikel believes they 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 the calibre of the 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 during their 2010 World Cup campaign, losing to Argentina and Greece before drawing with South Korea in their final game.
And Mikel believes that the mixture of youth and experience in the squad means that it is stronger.
“I think the guys are a bit more hungry,” he explained. “Four years ago, we had an aging team but there are a lot of young players in the team and they’re all hungry.
“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 the Chelsea midfielder admitted that it has led to an increase in confidence in the Super Eagles camp.
“It gives us extra confidence,” he said. “We have to make sure that 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 with Iran predicted to finish bottom of the group.
But Mikel insists that they are going to be meticulous in their preparation.
“You can say that, but 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.”
He added: “We do a little bit [of research] but hopefully what we do is going to pay off during the tournament.”