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Thursday 24 July 2014

 

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Mikel warns Nigerians not to under-estimate Iran and Bosnia come the World Cup

 

altSUPER Eagles midfield maestro Mikel Obi has warned that Nigeria should not underestimate Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina come the World Cup next year as both teams may prove more of a handful than Argentina.

 

Nigeria has been drawn in Group F alongside Argentina, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina and most football pundits are expecting the last game against the South Americans to be the crunch game in the group. However, Mikel has warned that the other two teams would be out to prove a point and victory against them should not be taken for granted.

 

Come Brazil, 2014, Nigeria will be facing Argentina for the fourth time at a World Cup but will be meeting Bosnia-Herzegovina for the first time. In 1998, Nigeria faced Iran in a friendly game in Hong Kong but Mikel believes the several encounters between the Eagles and the Albiceleste will make the last game more predictable than the others.

 

Mikel said: “It was a good draw but not an easy one. All the teams at the World Cup have the same dream and that is to win.

 

"We will take all the games as they come with all seriousness. We will go for victory in the opening game against Iran as the first game is always very important in such a competition."

 

Brazil 2014 will be Mikel's first World Cup appearance as he missed out on south Africa 2010 through injury and Nigeria did not qualify for Germany 2006. He added that he is keen to make an impact at the tournament as it is every players' dream to do well at the World Cup.

 

Mikel added: "Argentina are favourites but Iran and Bosnia may be tougher. I’m looking forward to Brazil with great expectation and it will be a great and fruitful tournament for us, as looking at our team right now, we are good enough to do well in Brazil,”

 

“I want my nation to do well as a team and I also want to do well as a player. We did our best at the Fifa Confederations Cup but the World Cup is a different tournament and we want to go back there and finish the business in Brazil.”

 

He did not rule Nigeria out of winning the World Cup but admitted setting a target at the tournament could put the team under unnecessary pressure. Over recent weeks, the Nigerian Football Federation has set reaching the semi finals should be the minimum goal, while several players have said Nigeria has what it takes to win the tournament.

 

Meanwhile, West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce has dispelled media reports linking his club with former Newcastle united striker Obafemi Martins. It had been reported that the Hammers will be seeking a January loan-move for Martins who is currently playing in the US with Seattle Sounders

 

Mr Allardyce said that although West Ham is looking to sign a striker in the January transfer window due to a lack of goals, he has not named any targets yet. Martins worked with Allardyce during his time at Newcastle, where he scored 35 times during his spell there.

 

With the transfer window due to open on December 31, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding Nigerian players, with Inter Milan said to be interested in Mikel. Apparently, a team of Inter officials have arrived in London for talks with Chelsea.

 

Also, Nigeria's U17 World Cup goalkeeper Dele Alampasu who is currently negotiating with Belgian club Genk, is said to be in the sights of Italian giants Juventus. Known as the Old Lady, Juventus are said to be negotiating a deal with the player and Genk to sign Alampasu come January.

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