WORLD CUP 2018 QUALIFIER
Super Eagles’ Captain, John Mikel Obi, has declared that though the three-time African champions have respect for 2012 AFCON winners Zambia, the total commitment to ensuring early qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals will see Nigeria wrap up the campaign next weekend.
Captain Mikel, who has had a marvelous run in the qualifying series, playing commendable leadership role, said yesterday that he is fully dedicated to the assignment of leading his teammates out on the turf of Godswill Akpabio Stadium to secure the sole ticket in Group B on October 7.
“I must admit that I applaud the resurgence of the Zambians this late in the qualifiers. Beating Algeria home and away is no mean feat. We will take them very serious on October 7 because they clearly have a new spirit. It is time we wrap this up,” observed the Tianjin Teda of China midfielder.
Speaking further on the relative smooth-run the Eagles have had in this campaign compared to earlier FIFA World Cup qualifying races, the former Chelsea FC of England player pin-pointed professionalism, determination and ambition as the factors that have swung the pendulum Nigeria’s way, whilst also heaping praises on Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr.
“We have all shown professionalism, dedication and determination to be at the pole position in a group tagged ‘Group of Death.’
“Commendations must go to the entire team and the coach, but we must finish it up in Uyo and secure our ticket right there,” he concluded with finality.
Meanwhile, Mikel provided an assist as his Chinese Super League club gave their relegation fight a huge boost with a 4-1 home win against Guizhou Hengfeng yesterday.
Mikel, who made his ninth league appearance of the season in the game, assisted Liyu Yang who scored Tianjin Teda’s third goal in the 88th minute.
Other scorers for Tianjin Teda were Mbaye Diagne (61st minute) and Ghanaian midfielder Frank Achampong in the 80th minute. Tianjin’s fourth goal came via an own goal by Guizhou Hengfeng’s Jie Wang in the 92nd minute.
Former Everton striker Nikica Jelavic scored Guizhou Hengfeng’s goal in the 85th minute.
The win means Mikel’s Tianjin now occupies 14th spot on 22 points in the 16-team league with just four games left.