Mikel has been influential for the Super Eagles as they head into a crucial game against Cote D’Ivoire in Sunday’s quarter final match in Rustenburg.
The Chelsea midfielder who was voted by readers of Goal.com as the Nigeria Player of the Year 2012 spoke to the website on Thursday at the Olympic Park Stadion where he received the award.
On the burden of expectations placed on him by Nigerian fans, Mikel told Goal.com: “The pressure is even more and I’m primed to carry the burden and try to lead this team to a very successful tournament.
“All of us are doing everything we can and the players are all in good shape. The team is together and all we have to do is just keep doing what we’re doing. The camp seems to be very united and everyone is focused on what we’re doing.
“The quarter final is going to be an opportunity for us to go out there and show the world what we can do against [the Elephants].
The 25 year-old recently signed a new five year contract with Chelsea. One of the things fans want to see do is to score his first Premier League goal.
“That’s something that I’ve always put in my mind, something that I’m working very hard towards,” he said. “I’ve come pretty close in most of the games that I’ve played but I think one day it will come.
“I’m praying and hoping that one day the goal will come,” Mikel concluded.