By Emmanuel Afonne
Super Eagles Captain John Obi Mikel, has said that he is more matured now to shoulder the responsibility of the senior national team as the country seeks to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Mikel who said this at the team’s interactive session with the media on Friday noted that he had learnt a lot since he was handed the captain’s armband.
“Sometimes when you are young, you make mistakes but the more you grow up, the more you know the things that are more important.
“I think that I am beginning to know where I come from and that is more important than anything.
“I have more responsibility now to lead the country and the team; I think that is what I am doing right now because I enjoy every bit of it,” Mikel said.
The Chelsea midfielder noted that the team would use the opportunity of the World Cup qualifiers to make amend for not qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) two consecutive times.
Mikel acknowledged that the weather would be hot going by the time of the match in Zambia but assured that the team would be careful to avoid defeat.
“We want to use this World Cup qualifiers to put things right; I don’t think we are under any pressure but we must put in our best to win.
“I think we have to go out there and play well to win; we want to qualify for the World Cup and there is no doubt about that.
“Just like the coach said we will not only be thinking about scoring but to also defend to ensure we win.
“So, we have to attack together and defend together; in doing this, we are sure of winning Zambia in Ndola on Sunday.
“I am always ready to lead the team since I took over the Eagles captaincy because I know the responsibility on my shoulder and I will never shy away from it,’’ he said.
Mikel said that he was eager to lead the Super Eagles to the World Cup, the way he led the Dream Team VI to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Alex Iwobi, on his part assured that the team was going to Zambia for the maximum three points.
Iwobi said the quality of players the team possessed was capable of defeating any team in the group.
William Troost-Ekong and Chisom Egbuchulam who were among the four players that interacted with the media said the match against Zambia was very important to the team.
Egbuchulam who won the Nigeria Professional Football League title with Rangers International FC Enugu said the team was working to pick the three points in the game.
Nigeria has won six of 16 previous matches with Zambia at international level, drawing five and losing five.
However, the Zambians have not beaten the Eagles in a competitive match in the past 31 years.
Nigeria defeated Zambia 5-4 on penalties to win a memorable Africa Cup of Nations final in Tunis in 1994.
The Eagles are expected to depart Abuja for Ndola on Saturday for the crunch tie against Zambia on Sunday.
The Eagles will host Algeria on Nov. 12 before four more games next year.