By Victor Kanayo
Former Nigerian international and Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, has tipped his country as one of the favourites for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) slated for Cote d’ivoire.
The Nigerian team are pitched against hosts Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, with the tournament scheduled to kick-off January 13, 2024.
Mikel who was part of the squad that lifted the Nations Cup 10 years ago to end a 19-year drought for the Super Eagles when they edged Burkina Faso 1-0 at Soccer City in Johannesburg back in 2013, told the CAF media team that the current crop of players could emulate what they did a decade ago.
He said, “We are always favourites, this is every time we go into the tournament and it’s no different this time. Everyone knows that we are one of the favourites – not the massive favourite but definitely one of the favourites.
“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.
“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.”
Soothing Joy For Fans, High Expectations
Nigerian football was made proud just a few weeks ago when star player, Victor Osimhen, was voted the best African player in the men’s category at the CAF Awards 2023, which was coupled by Asisat Oshoala replicating this in the women’s category.
A fourth the Super Eagles would be a massive achievement for the African powerhouse who have contributed significantly to the rich history books of the tournament over the years – lifting it in 1980, 1994 and 2013.
They were also runners-up in 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000.
Nigeria will kick-off their 2023 AFCON campaign on January 14 against Equatorial Guinea before facing the hosts four days later in what will be a repeat of the 2013 edition quarter-final that saw them overcome Cote d’Ivoire 2-1.
The team still led by Portuguese Jose Peseiro will finalise the Group A campaign with a tie against Guinea-Bissau on January 22, 2024.