Nigeria’s Mikel looks to banish sad memories of 2010

The Chelsea man has said that the Super Eagles are not in Brazil to make up the numbers but to contend for the trophy alongside the favourites

By Lolade Adewuyi in Campinas

Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel is looking to banish memories of the 2010 World Cup and lead the Super Eagles to the final of this summer’s tournament.

The Super Eagles held their last workout at the Estadio Guarani in Campinas on Friday evening before traveling to Curitiba ahead of their opening game against Iran on Monday.

Mikel, who is making his debut after missing out on South Africa 2010 due to last minute knee surgery, said that it is dream come true to play the World Cup in Brazil where the Eagles hope to last the distance.

“We want to make sure we stay here till the end of the tournament, we want to play the finals, we want to win the Cup, same as everyone, nothing short of that,” Mikel told journalists.

“We want to make sure we go a step ahead of where we normally finish in this tournament. It’s going to be tough but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”

His absence four years ago left a huge vacuum in the Nigeria midfield as the Super Eagles lost twice and drew their last match to finish bottom of their group.

“It is [a dream come true to play at the World Cup], it is my first World Cup. I missed out on the last one with a knee surgery. This time I’m fit and I’m ready and hopefully we all can have a good tournament,” he said.

The Chelsea midfielder described group favourites Argentina as a side brimming with talent in their attack.

“Argentina are a fantastic team, with fantastic players. If you look at them, their front line is very strong. I think they are one of the favourites [for the title],” he said.

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The Super Eagles have enjoyed a big welcome in Campinas with fans turning out to cheer them on during the open training on Friday.

“[The fans] have been very good, they are fantastic, they came out to give us a good reception,” said the 27-year-old.

“I love Brazil, I have a lot of Brazilian friends that I play with [at Chelsea]. They speak about how amazing it is. When you come out here you realize how much they love the game,” he said.