Former Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi, emphasized that Nigeria consistently enters the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament as favorites, expressing hope that the current generation of players can replicate the success achieved a decade ago.

Mikel Obi, who led the Super Eagles to victory under the late Stephen Keshi’s guidance 10 years ago, highlighted the significance of ending a 19-year AFCON title drought by defeating Burkina Faso 1-0 at Soccer City in Johannesburg in 2013. As Nigeria faces Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau in the upcoming tournament, Mikel Obi believes the team is well-positioned to perform admirably.

“We are always favorites, this is every time we go into the tournament and it’s no different this time. Everyone knows that we are one of the favorites – not the massive favorite but definitely one of the favorites,” said the former captain.

He expressed the desire for the current team to achieve a significant milestone, stating, “To be able to do it again will be a massive achievement for us which I think the country needs right now as well. We need to get our football back where it should be, and by winning this tournament, it will take it back to where it should be.”

Reflecting on the evolution of football since their previous triumph, Mikel Obi acknowledged the changes in the game but expressed confidence in the potential of the current squad. He remarked, “Football has changed dramatically, and I think this group of players are a good young team and play a different brand of football than we did, so let’s hope we can see a good performance from the Nigerian team.”

The AFCON tournament, named Cote d’Ivoire 2023, will see several teams carrying the burden of being considered favorites. A fourth AFCON title for the Super Eagles would mark a significant achievement for Nigeria, which has contributed substantially to the tournament’s rich history, having lifted the trophy in 1980, 1994, and 2013, while also being runners-up in 1984, 1988, 1990, and 2000.

Nigeria commences its campaign on January 14 against Equatorial Guinea, followed by a match against the hosts four days later, reminiscent of the 2013 edition quarter-final where they triumphed over Cote d’Ivoire 2-1. The Group A campaign concludes with a match against Guinea-Bissau on January 22.

Quest: Emmanuel kelvin

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