Festus Abu, Volgograd
Nigeria captain Mikel Obi says the Super Eagles are focussed on reaching the second round of the 2018 World Cup despite their poor start to their campaign in Russia.
The Eagles lost 2-0 to Croatia in their opening group fixture in Kaliningrad on Saturday and they have been under intense criticisms from their fans.
Nigeria have a chance to keep their World Cup hopes alive by beating World Cup debutants Iceland at the Volgograd Arena on Friday, and Mikel insists they will be all over the field firing on all cylinders against their fierce Nordic opponents, who held superstar Lionel Messi’s Argentina to a 1-1 draw at Spartak Stadium in Moscow on Saturday.
“We are focussed; we have not given up hope in spite of the disappointment of the loss to Croatia,” the veteran midfielder told reporters at Nigeria’s training base in Essentuki on Wednesday .
“We are training hard to make it out of the group, and hopefully things will work out for us on Friday.”
The 2012 UEFA Champions League winner insists he is comfortable playing in the advanced midfield role, after his former manager Jose Mourinho said his best position is a holding midfield role.
The China-based player, “I worked with Mourinho for a long time and he knows me very well.
“I have played in this advanced role for close to two years now and people never complained until we lost this game.
“I understand the feelings of everyone because of the result and how we played.Personally, I am ready to play anywhere the coach wants me to play.
“I’m comfortable with any of the roles, whether in a more offensive or defensive role. The most important thing is the team.”
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr said he is not under pressure ahead of the match.
The 64-year-old German said, “The pressure I feel now is the same as I have always felt.”
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