Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel has said that they have an opportunity of stamping their authority on the Africa Cup of Nations when they meet Cote D’Ivoire in Sunday’s quarter final match.
The Super Eagles defeated Ethiopia 2-0 courtesy of Victor Moses’ penalties late in the encounter on Tuesday night.
“It’s been great for us qualifying [for the tournament] because last time we didn’t make it. This time we’ve qualified and the group of players we have, and the new manager we have – he’s come into the team and made his stance. If you want to play for the country you have to give a hundred and ten percent, that’s what he demands from every player,” Mikel said at post-match press conference.
“We’ve come out here to do exactly what he wants us to do and to play for Nigeria as well. I think it is fantastic, we’re enjoying it.
“Now we’re in the quarter finals, we just have to keep going and do what we do in training and hopefully we will defeat Ivory Coast and go to the semi finals. It’s going to be difficult but hopefully we’ll make it.”
The Chelsea midfielder rated the game against the Ethiopians highly but that they knew what they were up against while preparing for the encounter.
“I think it was really tough, we knew they were coming into the game looking to win it as well. We knew they were going to be organised in the middle so we tried to make sure we didn’t play through the middle.
“They didn’t give me any space to play as well. Throughout the game I had one or two people running behind me. It was tough but sometimes I tried to get my space.
“It was difficult for both teams but this is what you demand [of yourself] when you come to a stage like this when you have to win to qualify,” said Mikel.
The Super Eagles will next take on the Elephants in a big West African duel in Sunday’s quarter final encounter in Rustenburg.