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Africa Cup of Nations

The Afcon will be like a war, declares Nigeria's Alex Iwobi

13:47 IST 19/06/2019
Alex Iwobi - South Africa vs. Nigeria
The Arsenal star is anticipating a tough challenge as he gears up for his debut appearance in the continental competition in Egypt

Nigeria forward Alex Iwobi stated that the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) will be a serious battle as 24 countries compete for the ultimate crown.

For the first time since its inception, there will be 24 teams at the Afcon finals including the Super Eagles.

The West Africans are set to return to the continental stage since 2013 and they have been placed in Group B against debutants Burundi, Madagascar and Guinea.

Ahead of their opening fixture against Burundi on June 22, Iwobi disclosed that the tournament will not be an easy ride for any team in Egypt.

“Everyone is saying on paper that we should go through and qualify [from Group B] but we know it is not going to be easy,” Iwobi told NFF media.

“Every team is there to try and do their best, to try and win. It is going to be almost like a war, it is going to be a serious battle and fight, every game will be competitive.

“I’m sure Madagascar and Burundi, even though it is their first, they will come to prove to everyone why they had the chance to get to the Afcon.

“We know it will not be easy because it’s been a while we played at the Africa Cup of Nations but we are going with confidence and our heads held up high.

“And not only that, we are still young and the future is very bright with young talent in the team. There is a lot of hope and a bright future ahead of us.”

Nigeria is one of the most successful countries in the competition having won the tournament in 1980, 1994 and 2013.

This is what Iwobi had to say about the Super Eagles target at the 18th Afcon. 

“We haven’t really discussed that as a team. We haven’t really pinpointed what we want to achieve but we all have this dream and this idea that we want to win the competition so that’s what we are going to do because we are confident and we are going to keep working hard and hopefully, we can do not just ourselves proud, but our nation as well.”

Gernot Rohr's men will play all their group games at the Alexandria Stadium with fixtures against Guinea and Madagascar scheduled for June 26 and June 30 respectively.