The Chelsea midfielder thinks that the Super Eagles can ride on the wave of being African champions to have a successful campaign at Brazil 2014
The Super Eagles won their third African title in February and will go to Brazil 2014 as the first reigning African champions since 2002 when Cameroon held the title and also played at the World Cup.
Nigeria are drawn in Group F alongside perennial foes Argentina, Asian high flyers Iran and debutants Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“I think being African champions has given us a huge lift. I think the mentality of the team has changed in the past couple of years, we believe now that we can go into every game and win,” Mikel told Goal while receiving the 2013 Goal Nigeria Player of the Year award, beating compatriots Vincent Enyeama, Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses and Godfrey Oboabona to it.
The Super Eagles already have a foretaste of what to expect next year after this summer’s campaign in the Confederations Cup saw them win against Tahiti and lose against Uruguay and Spain.
“If you look at the games we played in the Confederations Cup, we put on a very good performance in all the games. We were unlucky in the game against Uruguay, I think we should have beaten them by four or five. If you look at the game against Spain, we played really well but they just had that little bit of quality to get the goals,” he said.
With Ghana’s quarter final finish at South Africa 2010, the Super Eagles are being touted by their fans to go a place better than their neighbours in Brazil.
“I think the Africa Cup of Nations has given us a lot of belief to go into the World Cup - I know we can do well,” Mikel said.
Commenting on the return of manager Jose Mourinho to Chelsea, Mikel said that with time the Blues will begin to win every game.
“It’s been good, he’s back,” said Mikel. “We haven’t hit the heights that everyone wants us to hit but there have been changes, he’s come in with a different philosophy but still the mentality that we want to win every game and he is putting that into all the players.
“It’s going to take a bit of time but it’s something we’re working towards. Hopefully we will start to hit our heights soon and be playing consistently well but right now I think we’re in a very good position in the Premier League and the Champions League so if we can pick the standard up even higher I think it will be a very successful year,” he said.