Tianjin Teda of China midfielder, John Mikel Obi has virtually declared war on DR Congo, as the Super Eagles captain said he and his teammates in the Nigerian national team are ready to make the best of their World Cup send forth match.
The Eagles are billed to host Simba at Adokiye Amasiamaka Stadium, Port Harcourt on Monday afternoon and, though critical fans fear many of the players might be playing to avoid injuries, Mikel insists they will go full throttle against the visitors.
Simba’s delegation of 28 players landed in Port Harcourt on Thursday night, boasting they were in Nigeria to give the Super Eagles a good match before the Eagles fly out to London for another friendly this week, and onwards to the World Cup.
The two-time African champions are loaded to the hilt with their big name stars, with only Yannick Bolasie missing.
Yannick Bangala, Chancel Mbemba, Aaron Tshibola, Paul-Jose Mpoku and Gael Kakuta, as well as Cedric Bakambu, Britt Assombalonga, Benik Afobe, Kabongo Kasongo and Ben Malango are all in Port Harcourt.
One crunch encounter between both countries was their clash in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia in March 1976, when the Eagles’ thrashed then cup holders, Zaire 4-2 at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Baba Otu Mohammed scored two of those goals, with Sam Ojebode making good from the penalty spot and Thompson Usiyen getting Nigeria’s other goal.
In that squad were Joe Erico, Sani Mohammed, Godwin Odiye, Idowu Otubusin, Kelechi Emeteole, Ojebode, Muda Lawal, Aloysius Atuegbu, Haruna Ilerika, Baba Otu, Usiyen and Kunle Awesu.
Simba, though, look more fearsome nowadays, despite failing to stop Tunisia in the race for a ticket to Russia 2018.
Overhauling the Tunisians was always going to be a mountain to climb in their group, but they were almost there when leading the Carthage Eagles 2-0 in Kinshasa.
However, they then went on to concede two second half goals that abbreviated their chances and eventually killed their dream of a trip to Russia.
Nonetheless, Nigeria’s technical adviser, Gernot Rohr is not taking anything for granted in Monday’s match and has thrown in his own motivational factor by telling his players to go all out to prove their mettle.
Heading into the game, Rohr earlier said five players would be cut from the provisional list of 30 after Monday’s encounter, leaving him with only two more to drop from the final squad in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Austria upper Monday.
Mikel has now backed Rohr’s revelation with the need for the Eagles to go out on Monday with winning mentality and give their all against a squad that nearly grabbed a World Cup ticket.
After training for five days at Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Rohr and his wards arrived in Port Harcourt on Saturday night, and trained at Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium on Sunday evening.
Afterwards, Mikel said the Eagles are in great form and are in no mood to allow anyone to spoil their send forth fun, for which he says they are supremely motivated to succeed.
“We do not expect the Congolese to be easy opposition. They have a strong team made up of very talented players and we know this is one good opposition for us to confront before going to the World Cup.
“The FIFA World Cup is no picnic. We have to arrive in Russia with a winning mentality and you get that feeling of being ready only after beating strong teams,” Mikel submitted.